MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) –The Miami Marlins are playing their best ball of the season and they couldn’t have picked a better time to get hot.
They had won six games in a row and nine of their previous ten before losing to Washington on Wednesday. Now the Marlins look to resume their winning ways as they welcome the struggling Cincinnati Reds to Miami for a four-game series.
The Marlins, though, will face Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto on Thursday night in the first of seven matchups in 11 days between the teams.
Miami (53-54) won six in a row – its longest streak since May 2012 – and nine of 10 before falling 4-3 to Washington on Wednesday. The Marlins had three hits in the first eight innings before scoring twice in the ninth on Giancarlo Stanton’s 24th homer and Adeiny Hechavarria’s RBI double.
The Marlins were looking to move above .500 for the first time since June 20. Having bolstered their playoff hopes, they could be looking to add players before Thursday’s trade deadline.
“Ten days ago people may have thought we were sellers, and they were coming at us one way. Now it’s completely 180,” president of baseball operations Mike Hill said. “We’re going to do our best to try to upgrade, but we’re not going to be foolish. We’re not going to be shortsighted.”
The Reds (53-54) lost for the 10th time in 12 games since the All-Star break Wednesday, 5-4 to Arizona. They had scored three or fewer runs in 11 straight games – their longest streak since 1967 – before Devin Mesoraco’s three-run homer with two outs in the ninth.
Cincinnati, batting .189 with 24 runs in its last 12 contests, has Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips on the disabled list. Jay Bruce was placed on the bereavement list Tuesday and is not eligible to return until Friday.
Bruce is batting a career-low .215 and was 3 for 36 in his last 10 games.
“A lot of guys are struggling right now,” pitcher Alfredo Simon said.
Cueto (11-6, 2.08 ERA) is not one of them, as he led the Reds to a 1-0 victory over Washington on Saturday. He struck out nine and allowed four hits over seven innings in his third consecutive winning decision.
“He has confidence in himself and believes in what he does. He always gives us a chance to be in the game,” catcher Brayan Pena said.
Cueto has gone 2-1 with a 5.27 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins. He’ll face them for the first time since giving up six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-4 road loss Sept. 15, 2012.
Tom Koehler (7-7, 3.91) will make his first start against the Reds and first at home since July 2. The right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two starts at Marlins Park and 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his past three overall starts.
Koehler gave up three runs over five innings Saturday to earn his first win in four starts, 7-3 over Houston. He matched a career high by allowing nine hits but walked none.
Miami went 1-6 against Cincinnati in 2013 and lost the final five matchups. The Marlins have dropped four straight home games in the series.
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