Monday, May 16, 2011
Posted: 11:35 a.m.
The Associated Press
Marlins-Mets: Johnson vs. PelfreyFlorida Marlins ace Josh Johnson has allowed either one run or none in three of his last four outings, but he hasn't won any of them.
Facing the New York Mets might help him break that drought, but facing them in Flushing might not.
Johnson takes on the Mets on Monday night in the opener of a two-game series at Citi Field as the Marlins look to avoid rare back-to-back road losses.
Johnson (3-1, 1.63 ERA) ended April by holding his last five opponents to two total earned runs before giving up five in 7 1-3 innings of a May 5 loss at St. Louis.
The right-hander's winless streak reached four starts Tuesday against Philadelphia, but the Marlins (23-16) still came out on top. Johnson held the Phillies to one run over seven innings, striking out seven but leaving a tie game against Roy Halladay. Florida reached Halladay for the deciding run in the bottom of the eighth and prevailed 2-1.
Johnson is 8-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 13 starts versus the Mets (19-21), including a 6-2 home win April 1 in which he allowed two runs over 6 2-3 innings to open the season.
Those numbers would all appear favorable for Johnson, but his two starts at Citi Field last season may have been the worst of his career in this series. He gave up eight runs over 10 innings, and suffered his only loss to the Mets 7-1 on April 5, 2010.
Florida will be counting on Johnson to help bounce back after failing to complete a sweep Sunday against Washington. Javier Vazquez gave up six first-inning runs en route to an 8-4 defeat.
Pirates-Nationals: Maholm vs. Lannan
The Washington Nationals finally got some timely hitting in their latest game, allowing them to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.
Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates' suddenly struggling pitch staff might be a good way to stay hot at the plate.
The Nationals look to build off a much-needed win Monday night as they begin a two-game set with the visiting Pirates, who will turn to Paul Maholm to right a pitching staff that's been dreadful in five straight losses.
Washington (19-21) has the majors' lowest batting average at .225, and four hits were all it could muster in watching its skid extend to three with Saturday's 1-0 loss to Florida.
The Nationals didn't waste any time bouncing back Sunday. They had six hits and sent nine men to the plate in a six-run first inning, all the cushion they'd need in an 8-4 victory.
Washington had scored eight runs total in the first inning in its first 39 games.
"We know if we got on track offensively a little bit earlier, we would've won a few more games because we've pitched very well," manager Jim Riggleman told the Nationals' official website. "But that's the nature of it. The record says what we are. We're kind of hanging in there and treading water a little bit, but we feel very good about the club."
The Pirates (18-22), on the other hand, were the victims of some big early innings Sunday. Milwaukee scored four in the first and one apiece in the second and third before hanging on for a 9-6 win.
"We fought hard to get back, and they opened it up on us," said catcher Chris Snyder, who was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing a called strike.
Pittsburgh, which had a 3.54 ERA in its first 35 games, has a 6.43 ERA while dropping five in a row.
Given his mastery of the Houston Astros, Hanson appears to be in good position to continue his hot streak.
Atlanta goes for its seventh win in eight meetings with Houston as the teams open a two-game series Monday night at Turner Field.
Hanson (4-3, 2.51 ERA) began the season 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA, pitching fewer than six innings in three of those four starts. In four outings since, he's gone 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
The right-hander saw his three-start winning streak end Wednesday, when he allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings as the Braves (23-19) lost 7-3 in 11 innings to Washington.
Hanson has an opportunity to keep his unbeaten run going as he faces a team he's had plenty of success against. He is 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three career starts versus the Astros.
Chipper Jones' status for this game is uncertain, as he was a late scratch for Sunday's 3-2 win over Philadelphia. The third baseman sat out with a sore knee.
Jones has had some success against Houston's Brett Myers (1-3, 5.01), hitting .316 with three home runs and 10 walks.
Right fielder Jason Heyward missed his fifth straight game with a shoulder injury Sunday, but expects to be back Tuesday.
Dan Uggla's tiebreaking home run off Roy Halladay lifted the Braves in the series finale against the Phillies. He has struggled in his first season with Atlanta, as he entered Sunday batting .196 and in an 0-for-10 slump over the previous three games.
The second baseman, though, had two hits and a walk and scored each of the Braves' runs in his first multihit effort since May 4.
"You see how bad I've been scuffling so far this year," Uggla said. "It feels good to be able to feel like you contributed."
2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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