MIAMI (AP) – Henderson Alvarez has pitched much like an ace while trying to help the Miami Marlins overcome the season-ending injury to star Jose Fernandez.

Not even a stint on the disabled list could cool off the right-hander.

Alvarez will try to win his fourth straight start Friday night when the Marlins try to resume their push for a playoff spot as they open a nine-game road trip with the first of three against the Colorado Rockies.

After missing the first half of August with right shoulder inflammation, Alvarez (9-5, 2.43 ERA) wasted little time returning to the stopper role he assumed after Fernandez went down in May.

The 24-year-old held Arizona to a run over seven innings Saturday in a 2-1 victory.

Alvarez is 3-0 with a 1.23 mark in his last three starts. He’s limited opponents to two runs or fewer in 13 of his last 14 starts – Miami has won 12 of those – while going 7-2 with a 1.70 ERA.

“I’m just trying to do my best for me and for my team,” Alvarez, fourth in the NL in ERA, told MLB’s official website. “I’ll keep battling until the end, think positive and move forward.”

Alvarez, however, did not fare well in his only career start against the Rockies in April. He allowed six runs – three earned – over three-plus innings in a 6-5 loss in a series in which Miami took three of four to open the season.

Now the Marlins (63-63) seek their ninth win in 13 games as they continue their bid for an NL wild-card spot. They’ll have to bounce back after their three-game winning streak was snapped in a 5-4 home loss to Texas on Wednesday.

NL-worst Colorado (50-76) has totaled 38 runs and hit .307 while winning four of six on this nine-game homestand.

Matt McBride went 2 for 3 with a grand slam in his first start in two years in a 5-2 win over Kansas City on Wednesday. He missed a big chunk of 2013 after undergoing neck surgery and was out with a broken foot earlier this year.

“Another guy with a great story, who’s been through a lot,” manager Walt Weiss said.

Nolan Arenado (11 for 24) and Drew Stubbs (10 for 23) are seeing the ball well on the homestand, though they went a combined 3 for 19 in the April series against the Marlins.

Michael Cuddyer has hit .424 in his last nine meetings with Miami, and he’s expected to return after missing two games with a strained left hamstring.

Franklin Morales (5-6, 5.04) makes his third start in August after appearing in relief in two of his last three outings. He has a 5.15 ERA and has allowed 15 homers in 17 starts, but owns a 3.31 mark while giving up only two long balls in his last six.

The left-hander did not factor in the decision at Miami on April 3, surrendering three runs over 5 1-3 innings in an 8-5 loss.

Marcell Ozuna went 2 for 3 off him in that contest and is 9 for 18 in five career games versus Colorado. He finished with three hits Wednesday, including his 18th home run.

While Christian Yelich is batting .514 during a nine-game hitting streak, All-Star Giancarlo Stanton has seven homers and 13 RBIs in 11 career games at Coors Field.

Miami has won five of seven in Denver.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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