D-Backs Widen Gap

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been handed some of the worst losses in the majors since the All-Star break. Blowouts, though, have been just about the only way teams have been able to defeat the NL West leaders.

After bouncing back from a drubbing yet again, the Diamondbacks look to win their eighth straight series when they face the Florida Marlins in the finale of a three-game set Thursday night.

Arizona (68-53) evened this series with a 9-6 win over Florida (56-64) on Wednesday night, a day after losing the opener 14-5.

The Diamondbacks have taken control of the NL West with 18 wins in their last 23 games. They lost by at least nine runs three times during that stretch, but came back to win the next game each time.

"You see that a lot on championship teams - they come back and never let down," Arizona pitcher Doug Davis said.

The Diamondbacks haven't lost a series since dropping three of four games in Milwaukee from July 16-19.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Florida -108 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona -102 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Arizona's pitchers, however, have struggled in their last three games, allowing 27 runs. Livan Hernandez (8-7, 4.85 ERA), who has posted a 3.46 ERA en route to winning his last two starts, will take the mound for the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits in seven innings to beat Washington 11-4 on Friday night.

Hernandez earned a win against Florida on July 24, allowing one run and seven hits while striking out five in seven innings as Arizona won 9-3. Hernandez, who began his career with the Marlins, is 11-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 24 starts against them.

The Diamondbacks made an effort to upgrade their bullpen Wednesday, designating pitchers Byung-Hyun Kim and Joe Kennedy for assignment while recalling right-handers Dustin Nippert and Jailen Peguero to work in relief. Since joining Arizona earlier this month, Kim failed to get out of the third inning in either of his two starts and Kennedy allowed seven runs in 2 2-3 innings over three relief appearances.

Florida has been good at the plate lately, collecting at least 10 hits in five of its last six games, but has lost two of three after winning three straight.

Hanley Ramirez, the NL's leading hitter, went 1-for-4 for Florida on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. He has four home runs and 11 RBIs during the streak.

Ramirez (.343) is competing with teammate Miguel Cabrera (.336) for the league batting title.

"I think they help each other out," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team's official Web site. "They feed off each other."

Poor pitching has been the Marlins' biggest problem in its last three games, allowing a total of 24 runs.

Florida now gives the ball to Daniel Barone (0-0, 3.86 ERA), who will be making his second major league start. In his big-league debut, the 24-year-old right-hander allowed three runs - two earned - and five hits in 4 2-3 innings as Florida beat the New York Mets 4-3 on Friday night.
by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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