Not many teams have been able to shut down the Colorado Rockies' hitters. The Florida Marlins are one of the few clubs that have, and their success has helped keep the NL wild-card race interesting.
The Marlins, who got an outstanding pitching effort to draw closer to the Rockies, look to continue their success against one of the major leagues' top lineups Saturday night.Florida (62-54) began this three-game set Friday with a 6-5 win over Colorado (64-52), climbing within two games of the Rockies for the wild-card lead.Josh Johnson led the Marlins to their seventh win in eight games, going 7 2/3 innings before allowing his first hit -- a solo homer by Garrett Atkins."It's good to set the tone for the series," Johnson said. "That's what we needed."Though Florida's bullpen struggled the rest of the way, it has a 2.06 ERA in four games against Colorado this year -- three of them wins for the Marlins.The Rockies, who had hit .315 and averaged 6.3 runs while winning eight of their previous 12 games this month, struck out 15 times in the series opener. They'll next face Rick VandenHurk (2-1, 4.15 ERA), who allowed two runs in five innings to earn a win in Florida's 8-6 victory over Houston on Monday night.The right-hander has surrendered two runs or fewer in four of his five outings since being called up from the minors.He lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his only previous start against the Rockies, giving up two runs as the Marlins lost 4-3 on Aug. 2, 2007.Colorado will counter with Aaron Cook (10-4, 3.93), who is healthy enough to start after leaving his last outing due to a hyperextended big toe. He was taken out after five innings and ended up suffering his first loss in more than two months, giving up three runs in five innings as Colorado fell 3-1 at Philadelphia on Aug. 6.The right-hander had gone 7-0 with a 2.97 ERA in 11 starts since losing at Houston on June 1.Cook is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts versus the Marlins.He'll be facing a Florida lineup that has been just as hot as Colorado's. The Marlins have had at least 10 hits in a club-record 11 straight games, and have scored six runs or more in seven consecutive contests.Dan Uggla helped lead the Marlins' latest effort, hitting a two-run homer to give him 21 on the season. Still, the second baseman is batting .189 in 19 career games versus Colorado.Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who leads the NL with a .354 batting average, is 11 for 17 against the Rockies this season. He went 2 for 4 Friday and is hitting .460 with six doubles and 12 RBIs in his last 10 contests.Rookie left fielder Chris Coghlan has helped give Ramirez RBI chances, doing a good job of getting on base from the leadoff spot. Coghlan, though, is coming off an 0-for-4 effort, ending a career-high 12-game hitting streak during which he batted .436.