Marlins target .500 in capper with D-backs
(SportsNetwork.com) - Prolonged contention for the National League's postseason is going to require quality pitching from the Miami Marlins staff.
The Marlins are 3 1/2 games out of the NL's second wild card playoff spot and have won six of nine games heading into Sunday's finale of a four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park.
A 2-1 win Saturday put Miami within a game of reaching .500 for the first time since July 29.
The Marlins got an ace-quality performance from the returning Henderson Alvarez in that victory, which lowered the team's collective earned run average to 2.89 in its last nine games.
"I'm just thankful that everything went well today and I was able to go out there and help my team," Alvarez said. "We're in the middle of the hunt so this is an important stretch for us."
Following up Alvarez's outing will be right-hander Tom Koehler, who defeated St. Louis on Monday but has still compiled a bloated 4.85 ERA in his last seven assignments.
He's winless in two career meetings with the Diamondbacks and lasted just three innings while allowing seven runs against them en route to a 9-1 loss on July 7.
Arizona had five errors in Saturday's loss and leads the NL with 91.
"Through all the mistakes we battled and we only gave up two runs, one unearned and one earned," manager Kirk Gibson said.
The Diamondbacks send Josh Collmenter to the mound after an aborted outing on Tuesday that was halted by rain in Cleveland in the fourth inning. In his last official outing, he allowed three runs in six innings of an Aug. 6 loss to Kansas City.
He's 2-3 with a 6.12 ERA in eight road starts and has allowed at least five runs in three of the last four outings away from home.
Against Miami on July 9, he gave up one run in seven innings of a game Arizona ultimately won, 4-3, in 10 innings.
08/17 09:40:32 ET