Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates game preview
PITTSBURGH -- It looked like the table was set for the Pittsburgh Pirates entering their weekend series against Miami at PNC Park.
The Marlins, though, had other ideas.
Miami, which had lost three straight games and three series in a row, clinched this set with a 3-1 victory Saturday following a 6-5 win Friday.
The Marlins moved a half-game ahead of the Pirates in the National League wild-card chase and are 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis, which holds the second wild-card spot.
Miami goes for a sweep Sunday against a Pirates team that entered the weekend having won four straight games, four series in a row and was looking to create some space between themselves and the Marlins in the wild card standings.
"Every day is a game that you basically feel like you've got to go out and win," Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "At this point in the year, every day you do that, it kind of stays on your side until the next day, and the next pitcher can hopefully start with zeroes.
"Things change quickly. We come out of Cincinnati (after losing three in a row and three of four) and everybody's not doing great. We're asked questions about are you fading? Two days later, you feel like you've got a good club and you've got a chance to do something. That's this time of year."
Although David Phelps' six shutout innings helped immensely Saturday, Miami's offense has been its biggest asset this weekend.
On Friday, the Marlins banged out 16 hits, including three home runs, in a 6-5 victory that could have been lopsided if they had not left 14 men on base. Saturday, they made the most of their six hits in taking an early 3-0 lead.
Entering Saturday, Miami ranked second in the National League and third in the majors with a .271 batting average.
Right-hander Jose Urena (1-4, 6.80 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday for Miami. He has been a study in trying to find consistency.
Urena has spent time with the Marlins and Triple-A New Orleans -- in the bullpen and as a starter -- since making his major league debut last season.
He most recently was called up to start Tuesday at Cincinnati, his seventh recall. In that game, a 6-3 loss, he had a rough patch in the first inning. With two outs, he gave up a bases-loaded walk and a grand slam to the Reds' Tucker Barnhart.
Then he got back in his groove and lasted through the sixth.
"I tried to put the ball down in the zone. I couldn't find it," Urena told reporters of his lapse against the Reds. "After that, I was doing better."
Urena opposes Pittsburgh right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (2-2, 3.20 ERA).
Vogelsong missed more than two months this season after facial injuries from being hit by a pitch May 24 led to surgery and a long stint on the disabled list. Since he was reinstated Aug. 4, he is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts.
He won't have to deal with the distraction he faced his last time out, an 8-5 win Monday against his former team, San Francisco. He gave up four runs on nine hits, with three walks and one strikeout, in 5 2/3 innings, but he didn't hide the fact that the Giants' fans warm welcome, including an ovation early in the game, affected him.
"That first inning, man, I wasn't ready for it, the ovation," Vogelsong told USA Today. "It threw me off a little bit. Awesome, though, awesome. Those are the kind of moments you wish every guy would get to experience.
"It's hard to stay locked in and be appreciative at the same time. There's moments in these games you want to hold on to and remember for the rest of your life, and (this) was one of those for me."