Marlins-Rays Preview

The bickering Miami Marlins are seeking a way out of a dismal

stretch.

The best way out may not be another weekend series against the

Tampa Bay Rays.

The Marlins will try to avoid both a ninth loss in 10 games

overall and an eighth straight defeat in the Citrus Series when

they and the Rays square off Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Miami (32-31) fell 10-2 to Boston on Wednesday to complete a

wretched 1-8 homestand that included a three-game sweep by Tampa

Bay (35-28) last weekend.

The Marlins batted .196 while being outscored 56-17 during the

homestand. For the season, they’re among the worst offensive teams

in the majors, batting .242 overall, .218 with runners in scoring

position and averaging 3.7 runs.

“We’d better start hitting better if we want to win some games,”

manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Guillen showed his frustration Wednesday when he went to the

mound to remove Heath Bell, then became angry when his struggling

closer lobbied in vain to remain in the game. They then had another

testy exchange in the dugout, and coach Joey Cora had to step

between them.

Guillen said he removed Bell because he had thrown 19 pitches

and didn’t need any more work after allowing two hits while getting

two outs in the ninth.

“It was basically like two bulls hit in the head,” Bell said.

“Ozzie was upset we were losing. I just said, ‘I can get this guy

out.’ … I apologize. I didn’t mean any disrespect. It could have

been huge, but it really wasn’t.

“The way the team is playing, these little things are blown out

of proportion.”

Carlos Zambrano (4-4, 3.55 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball as

he tries to rebound from his shortest outing of the season.

The right-hander allowed seven runs before being pulled with one

out in the third inning due to lower back stiffness in a 13-4 loss

to the Rays last Saturday.

Zambrano has compiled a 0.88 ERA while winning three of his last

four road starts. However, he lost his last visit to Tropicana

Field, allowing five runs in 6 2-3 innings in 2008, while with the

Chicago Cubs.

The Marlins have been outscored 40-13 during a seven-game losing

streak in the Citrus Series, batting .186 in those contests – .111

with runners in scoring position. They were outscored 22-7 last

weekend.

Tampa Bay, though, followed that sweep of the Marlins by losing

all three games against the New York Mets, falling 9-6 in

Thursday’s finale.

“They just beat us up for three days … that happens,” manager

Joe Maddon said. “It’s happened here before. We’ve been able to

recover from that in the past and I anticipate we’ll be able to do

it again.”

Maddon will give the ball to rookie Matt Moore (3-5, 4.59) for a

rematch against Zambrano. The left-hander allowed four runs over

six innings Saturday, but it was enough to win back-to-back starts

for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist is 10 for 19 with two homers and seven

RBIs in his last five games, with seven of those hits – including

both home runs – coming against the Marlins last weekend. He’s 11

for 21 in his last six contests versus the Marlins.