MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – After winning six out of eight games, the Miami Marlins have taken a step back, winning just one of their past four.
The Philadelphia Phillies are counting on Aaron Nola to be part of their rebuilding plan. For now, he has a chance to help them take a step toward a modest goal.
The rookie seeks his fourth straight win as the visiting Phillies try to move out of sole possession of last place in the NL East on Sunday with a series win over the Marlins.
Philadelphia (49-74) was 10 games behind Miami (50-73) with the worst record in the majors at the All-Star break. Since then, though, the club has posted the third-best record in the NL at 20-12.
The Phillies opened the season’s second half with a three-game home sweep of the Marlins and have taken two of the first three in this series after Saturday’s 4-2 victory.
Aaron Altherr and fellow rookie Darnell Sweeney hit their first career home runs, while Darin Ruf added his fifth of the season to help Philadelphia rally from a two-run hole in the final two innings. Altherr and Ruf hit back-to-back solo shots in the ninth.
“Having my parents and my brothers and sisters here was definitely a great feeling to be able to do that in front of them,” Sweeney said. “It’s a dream and a storybook ending.”
The Phillies now have a chance to move into a tie with Miami in the finale if they can record back-to-back wins for the first time since a three-game run Aug. 7-9.
Nola has displayed excellent command in his first season, but he’s looking to regroup after issuing a season-high four walks in Tuesday’s 8-5 home loss to Toronto. It was his highest walk total in 35 pro starts this year – 29 of which came in the minors.
The 2014 first-round pick, who did not factor in that decision after allowing three runs in five innings, had walked just six over 29 2-3 innings in his previous five starts.
Still, Nola (3-1, 4.41 ERA) has won three consecutive decisions since a 1-0 loss to visiting Tampa Bay in his debut July 21. Though he has a 5.30 ERA in three road outings, the Phillies have won each of those contests while giving him 21 total runs of support.
Nola gets his first look at a Miami club that has totaled three runs and 11 hits in its last two after batting .317 and averaging 7.4 runs while winning four of five.
Derek Dietrich accounted for the team’s scoring Saturday with a two-run double in the third. He’s 10 for 23 with two homers, three doubles and nine RBIs over his last seven.
Dee Gordon, who leads the majors with a .336 average, went hitless for only the third time in 19 games this month. He was hitting .448 in his prior seven versus Philadelphia.
Miami rookie Adam Conley (1-0, 5.82) has struggled since joining the rotation earlier this month and has posted a 7.90 ERA over his last four appearances overall.
The left-hander gave up four runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings Tuesday at Milwaukee. He had six strikeouts in three scoreless innings before unraveling in the 9-6 win.
He could have trouble against a Philadelphia offense that has hit .301 with 6.0 runs per game over its last five. Andres Blanco is hitting .385 with three home runs and three doubles in his past seven.
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