(AP) — It’s been five seasons since the Miami Marlins won six straight at home, and even longer since they swept a series there from the Atlanta Braves.
The Marlins hope to accomplish both while getting the best of unbeaten Braves right-hander Ervin Santana on Thursday night.
Prior to this series, the Marlins (13-14) averaged 2.2 runs while losing 15 of 19 at home to Atlanta. Their last sweep of the Braves (17-9) came on the road in 2009, but after totaling 18 runs and 28 hits in the last two contests they can do so at home for the first time since June 13-15, 2006.
Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer and Nathan Eovaldi allowed a run over seven innings in Wednesday’s 9-3 victory.
Hitting .337 while outscoring Seattle and Atlanta 36-9 over the last five at home, Miami tries to win six straight for the first time at Marlins Park and for the first time in South Florida since an eight-game run June 20-July 1, 2009.
Ozuna is batting .404 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 14 home games for the Marlins, who are averaging 6.3 runs and batting .307 while posting a major-league best 11-4 mark in Miami.
“I love it. Keep it coming,” said manager Mike Redmond, whose team is batting .215 while going 2-10 on the road. “Maybe we’re starting to see a little change here at home where we’re starting to get comfortable in this ballpark.”
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 5 for 7 with two RBIs in the series, and batting .370 at home this season. He’s 2 for 9 against Santana (3-0, 1.95 ERA), but one of those hits left the park.
Santana is off to his best start since going 6-0 with a 2.63 ERA over eight outings in 2008, but allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win over Cincinnati on Friday after yielding two with 13 hits in his first three.
He has only faced the Marlins twice since 2005, most recently yielding a run in six innings for Kansas City on Aug. 14.
After going 0-2 with a 4.30 ERA in his first three outings this season, Henderson Alvarez (1-2, 2.73) is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last two. The right-hander followed his two-hitter against Seattle on April 19 by allowing two runs in six innings Friday before Miami blew a ninth-inning lead to lose 4-3 to the New York Mets.
Alvarez went 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts against the Braves last season.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are a combined 9 for 18 with four doubles and a home run versus Alvarez. Heyward is 3 for 8 with three doubles in the series but Freeman is 0 for 7.
The Braves averaged 8.0 hits while winning four straight prior to this series, but have totaled nine and three runs in the first two contests.
“We’ve got to put some runs on the board,” said Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson, who is 2 for 23 in his last eight games. “There’s no excuse for it.”
Justin Upton’s two-run homer Wednesday was his third in four games for the Braves.
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