The Miami Marlins beat one of the majors’ top pitchers to even their series in Philadelphia. They might win the set if they can somehow add to the struggles of the Phillies’ next scheduled starter.
Trying for their first winning series at Citizens Bank Park in two years, the Marlins hope for some rare success against Joe Blanton on Sunday.
Hanley Ramirez homered twice and drove in three runs Saturday as Miami (30-23) prevented Cole Hamels from becoming the majors’ first nine-game winner with a 5-4 win at Philadelphia. One game behind first-place Washington in the NL East, the Marlins have won 22 of 31.
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“We’ve been playing pretty good baseball, so we’re going to try to continue to do that,” Ramirez said.
The latest victory snapped Miami’s three-game skid at Citizens Bank Park, where it has not won a series since taking two of three April 16-18, 2010.
If they are to do it again, they’ll likely need to get the best of Blanton (4-5, 5.05 ERA), who is 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 10 starts against the Marlins. The right-hander, who gave up a run and three hits in seven innings of a 3-1 home victory over Miami on April 12, has a 2.50 ERA while winning three straight starts in the series.
Blanton, though, is in the midst of his roughest stretch of 2012.
He went 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts from April 28-May 14, but is 0-2 with a 12.51 ERA in his last three. Blanton allowed six runs and nine hits – including two homers – in five-plus innings of a 6-3 loss to the Mets on Tuesday.
He has served up eight home runs in his last three starts after allowing two in the previous seven.
“It’s so bad that you can’t even get mad, really,” Blanton told the Phillies’ official website. “That’s really how I feel. That’s about the only way I can put it. It’s that bad that I can’t even get mad.
“Physically, I’m good. I feel like the ball is coming out decent. It’s just command. That’s 100 percent the problem. That’s what’s killing me.”
Ramirez is 7 for 21 against Blanton, and 11 for 19 with three homers and three doubles in the last five games overall.
“Hanley is a good hitter – one of the best hitters in the game,” Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Hanley is good against anybody.”
Scheduled Miami starter Carlos Zambrano (3-3, 3.00) allowed a season-high seven runs in five innings of an 8-4 loss to Colorado on May 23, but regrouped to beat Washington on Monday. He gave up three runs in six-plus innings of a 5-3 win.
He has long struggled at Philadelphia, going 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA there with only one quality start in six outings.
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is 7 for 13 against Zambrano, but 3 for 26 in his last eight games overall.
The Phillies (28-26) lost for third time in 10 games Saturday and also learned that reliever Jose Contreras is likely done for the season with a torn UCL and flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his previous 11 appearances before injuring himself during Friday’s 6-4 win over Miami.