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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins hung around the National League wild card race until the end of August but appear to be fading out of the picture.

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The Marlins will try to get back to .500 and snap a three-game slide when they host the opener of a three-game series against the struggling Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.

Miami let a lead slip away in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians and has lost eight of nine. The slide has dropped the team four games behind the NL wild card-leading St. Louis Cardinals and the only thing going in the Marlins’ favor is the schedule, which pits them against the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves for nine of the next 12 contests.

Philadelphia has dropped six in a row and eight of nine, capped by a home sweep against the National League-worst Braves over the weekend. The Phillies are averaging 1.8 runs in the last six games and managed more than four runs twice in the last 14 contests.

PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies Jerad Eickhoff (9-13, 3.90 ERA) vs. Marlins Jake Esch (0-0, 4.15)

Eickhoff turned in his second straight quality start on Tuesday against Washington but suffered the loss while allowing three runs and five hits in six innings. The 26-year-old managed to keep the ball in the yard against the Nationals after yielding seven homers in his previous four turns. Eickhoff was a tough-luck loser at Miami on July 26, when he struck out eight and surrendered one run in seven innings.

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Esch made his major-league debut at the New York Mets on Wednesday and gave up just two runs despite allowing seven hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. The Georgia Tech product went 12-10 with a 4.31 ERA in 26 starts across the top two levels of the minors and is getting a chance to earn a spot in the Marlins rotation. Esch yielded 143 hits and notched 96 strikeouts in 142 minor-league innings this season.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Phillies shut down RHP Vince Velasquez for the remainder of the season due to workload concerns.

2. Miami CF Marcell Ozuna (wrist) missed the entire weekend and is not expected back against Philadelphia.

3. Marlins 3B/1B Chris Johnson is 2-for-19 with six strikeouts in his last nine games.

PREDICTION: Phillies 3, Marlins 1

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By SportsDirect Inc.