MIAMI (CBSMiami/Gracenote) – Teams dealing with tough stretches can find some relief when seeing a certain team on the schedule.
Even though victories have been few and far between for the Atlanta Braves this season, the middle of their lineup is producing as they eye a sweep of the host Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Right fielder Nick Markakis, who had three hits in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph, first baseman Freddie Freeman and left fielder Matt Kemp all bring batting averages above .300 into the series finale.
Freeman collected two hits Saturday and is batting .342 with a .750 slugging percentage, while Kemp’s eighth-inning infield single extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
The Marlins have lost five in a row and dropped behind Atlanta into last place in the National League East after Saturday’s loss.
Their lone run Saturday came on a homer by first baseman Justin Bour, who is 6-for-12 with three homers, five walks and six RBIs in his past four contests.
Derek Dietrich extended his hitting streak to six games with a double, but the Miami offense was limited to five hits – its lowest total since May 1.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN South (Atlanta), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH R.A. Dickey (3-2, 4.29 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Justin Nicolino (2016: 3-6, 4.99)
Dickey has pitched well, surrendering more than three earned runs just once in six starts – that coming in a Sunday loss to St. Louis in which he gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings.
The 42-year-old knuckleballer has won his past two decisions, beating the New York Mets twice while allowing five earned runs in 11 innings.
Dickey has enjoyed success against Miami, going 10-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 career appearances.
Miami will summon Nicolino from Triple-A New Orleans to start the series finale, opting to keep Dan Straily (Monday) and Tom Koehler (Tuesday) on regular rest.
Nicolino went 2-6 with a 5.48 ERA in 13 starts last season, allowing eight homers in 70 2/3 innings after going 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 12 starts as a rookie in 2015.
The 25-year-old has made seven starts at Triple-A this season, going 1-3 with a 4.46 ERA, but is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against the Braves.
- The Marlins dropped to 1-15 when trailing after six innings.
- Saturday’s victory improved Atlanta’s record at Marlins Park to 34-15 since the stadium opened in 2012.
- Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki struck out as a pinch hitter to end Saturday’s game, moving past Ernie Banks and into 49th place on the list of all-time games played (2,529).
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Gracenote contributed to this report.)