Reds-Marlins Preview

Thanks to the bat of Jorge Cantu, the Florida Marlins are in

position to secure a winning homestand.

The Marlins look for a second straight victory and split of

their four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Cantu homered as Florida (5-4) avoided a third consecutive loss

with a 5-3 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday. The Marlins are 3-3 on

their season opening seven-game homestand.

Cantu’s has three home runs this year and became the first

player in major league history to have at least one hit and one RBI

in each of his team’s first nine games. The veteran first baseman,

who spent part of the 2007 season with the Reds, has gone 13

straight contests dating to last year with a hit and an RBI – the

longest stretch since Mike Piazza went 15 in a row from June

14-July 2, 2000.

“It’s a great honor,” said Cantu, who has 14 RBIs this season.

“I’m going to keep pushing myself and get hungrier for more.”

Cantu continues to hit well off Reds’ pitchers, batting .313

with six home runs and 14 RBIs in 20 career games versus

Cincinnati. He’s 4 for 10 against Reds scheduled starter Aaron

Harang.

He helped the Marlins bounce back after they lost the first two

games of the set by a combined three runs.

After starters Ricky Nolasco and Nate Robertson allowed 11 runs

combined in the first two games of the series, Chris Volstad gave

up three in 6 2-3 solid innings for the Marlins on Wednesday.

Florida hopes scheduled starter Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.30 ERA)

returns to his All-Star form of last season after a pair of

mediocre starts this year.

A 15-game winner in 2009, Johnson has not lasted more than five

innings in either start. He allowed three runs, struck out seven

and walked three in five innings of a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles

Dodgers on Saturday.

“It’s consistency. It’s there, and then it’s not,” said

Johnson, who signed a $39 million, four-year contract extension in

January. “It’s not what you want, but you’ve got to deal with

it.”

The right-hander gave up two runs and struck out six in 7 1-3

innings of a 3-2, 14-inning Florida win in his only start versus

the Reds on May 4.

Harang (0-1, 4.50) gave up two runs and struck out nine in seven

innings of that contest against the Marlins, and will face Johnson

again in the series finale.

The right-hander, 3-2 with a 6.15 ERA in nine starts against the

Marlins, could not hold a three-run lead and didn’t factor in the

decision of a 4-3 loss to Chicago on Saturday. Harang allowed three

runs in seven innings while striking out seven and walking

none.

He is 1-11 with a 4.75 ERA over his last 18 starts.

“You learn from the rough patches,” Harang said. “You learn

from your mistakes and just go out and do what you can.”

Paul Janish hit a two-run homer and had two of the five hits

Wednesday for Cincinnati (5-4), which had its three-game winning

streak snapped.

Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce is batting .161 overall, but is 4 for 12

in this series. He’s a lifetime .316 hitter in nine road games

against the Marlins.