MIAMI (AP) – The Miami Marlins are talking about playing for pride. While the Milwaukee Brewers are three games under .500, they still harbor playoff hopes, no matter the long odds.
Mike Fiers takes the mound looking to continue his impressive season when the Brewers open a four-game road series against the Marlins on Monday.
Milwaukee has put together its best run of the season over the last two weeks, winning 11 of 13.
The Brewers (65-68) completed a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 12-8 win Sunday. They hit five homers, including Ryan Braun’s NL-leading 37th, and reached double digits in runs for the third time in seven games.
Braun is hitting .353 with four homers and 12 RBIs in the last 13 games while helping the Brewers pull within 6 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot.
“You never know what can happen,” Braun said. “You just continue to compete every day. Obviously we’d have to play great baseball for the rest of the year but by no means are we giving up. We realistically think that we are still in it.”
Fiers (8-6, 2.85 ERA) will try to give Milwaukee its fourth straight victory Monday and win his third consecutive start.
After striking out 10 in beating the Pirates on Aug. 24, the right-hander allowed one run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, fanning six.
“As soon as he got the curveball going … that big slow curveball really sets up his other pitches well,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Fiers.
Fiers took the loss against Miami on July 5, but pitched well, allowing two runs while striking out nine over 7 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss.
He may not need much support Monday. The Marlins (59-75) were swept in a three-game series against the New York Mets over the weekend and have lost four straight overall. They lost 5-1 Sunday, with starter Mark Buehrle giving up all five runs in the first.
Miami, which has scored eight runs over the losing streak, is a season-worst 16 games under .500. It has dropped eight of 10 overall and 11 of 16 at home.
“Obviously it’s not too fun,” Buehrle told the Marlins’ official website. “Guys have to come out and show energy, and be energized and try to win every games.
Ricky Nolasco (10-12, 4.78) looks to build off his best start of the season when he takes the mound. He pitched a five-hitter and struck out six in a 9-0 win over Washington on Tuesday after having allowed five runs in each of his previous two starts.
“When Ricky throws strikes, he can be effective,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “All his pitches were working today.”
Making his first start against the Brewers in 2012, Nolasco hopes to turn around his fortune against them. He is 1-2 with a 9.47 ERA in six previous meetings.
Rickie Weeks is 7 for 14 with a homer against Nolasco.
The teams split a four-game series at Milwaukee in July. The Brewers won their final four meetings between the two on the road last year.
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