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TAMPA (SportsDirect Inc.) — Jose Fernandez is in a sensational groove and will look to win his sixth consecutive start when the visiting Miami Marlins wrap up a four-game, home-and-home series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon.

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After splitting the first two games in Miami, the Marlins squeezed out a 4-3 victory Wednesday to improve to 14-9 away from home.

Fernandez has permitted a total of seven runs during his winning streak, but he has lost both of his career starts against the Rays at Tropicana Park.

He will need to be wary of former teammate Logan Morrison, who continued his white-hot tear with a homer among three hits Wednesday and is 15-for-27 with three blasts and 10 RBIs over his last nine games.

Cole Gillespie, in Miami’s lineup because Giancarlo Stanton was sidelined with soreness in his side, recorded a pair of hits and delivered a tiebreaking RBI double Wednesday.

Tampa Bay, which has dropped four of five, sends Drew Smyly to the mound to oppose Fernandez in the series finale.

TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Florida (Miami), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)

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PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH José Fernández (6-2, 3.02 ERA) vs. Rays LH Drew Smyly (2-5, 3.54)

Fernandez gave up four hits for the third start in a row while allowing one run and striking out nine over six innings to beat Washington for the second straight outing. Hernandez rang up 11 strikeouts in each of his previous two starts while allowing a total of one run against the Nationals and Milwaukee. He has not enjoyed much success against Miami’s intrastate rival, going 0-2 with a 5.79 in two starts and yielding a career-high 11 hits last year.

Smyly took the loss at Detroit last time out after giving up three runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, marking the seventh time in nine starts he has permitted three runs or fewer. Smyly won his previous outing in Toronto with five frames of one-run ball, but he is winless at home with an 0-3 record and 4.01 ERA despite limiting opponents to a .182 batting average. Smyly defeated Miami in his final start of 2015, allowing one run over six innings.


1. Marlins OF Marcell Ozuna singled in two runs Wednesday to extend his streak of reaching base to a major league-best 32 straight games.

2. Morrison is 7-for-9 with a homer and four RBIs in the series.

3. Miami is hoping OF Christian Yelich (back) will return to the lineup this weekend against Atlanta.

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