The visiting Miami Marlins will turn to Pablo Lopez to help them salvage a game in the four-game series with the Atlanta Braves and trim a game off their magic number to sew up a playoff spot.
Atlanta (34-22) has won the first three games in the series between the two National League East rivalsand is trying to hold onto the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. The Braves have a two-game lead over Chicago for the league's second-best record.
The Marlins (28-28) still have a magic number of three after Philadelphia won on Wednesday. Miami is trying to secure a place in the postseason for the first time since 2003. The Marlins have lost four straight, but cling to a half-game lead over Philadelphia (28-29) for second place in the East.
"We're trying to preach to take care of our business," said Miami left fielder Corey Dickerson. "Play for one another. Be a good teammate. There's no reason to play a different way right now. We're thankful to have this opportunity ahead of us."
Miami manager Don Mattingly is trying to get his club to play the way it has most of the season. The Marlins don't need anything extra, just what they've already shown over the last two months.
"The best players don't get to the playoffs or down to the last week of the season and say, 'Now, I've got to be really good.' You've got to be just what you've been," Mattingly said. "That standard should be really high, and it should be higher than your standard for them."
The series finale will feature Lopez (5-4, 3.96 ERA) against Atlanta's Ian Anderson (3-1, 2.36).
Lopez has made 10 starts and pitched at least five innings in eight of those. In his last start on Saturday, Lopez went 5 1/3 innings against Washington and allowed two runs on three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.
He was beaten by the Braves on Sept. 9, getting knocked out after allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. In seven career starts against Atlanta, Lopez is 1-4 with a 5.05 ERA.
Anderson, a rookie who was the organization's top pitching prospect, got his first start on Aug. 26 and has become the team's second-best starter. Anderson is coming off his first loss, suffered on Saturday against the New York Mets when he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Anderson started on Sept. 7 against Miami and left after three innings because of a high pitch count. He gave up two runs, one earned, and was not involved in the decision.
The Atlanta offense continues to put up big numbers since the return of second baseman Ozzie Albies, who missed a month with a right wrist bone bruise. In the 14 games since Albies returned, the Braves are averaging 7.8 runs per game. Albies hit cleanup and went 2-for-4 on Wednesday. He is batting .404 (23-for-57) since he returned.
The Braves have hit 99 home runs, second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have 51 homers in September, five short of the franchise record for the most homers in a month set in June 2019.
"This is pretty satisfying, given how crazy this whole year has been," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "For us to lose so many guys over the year, it's pretty amazing what we were able to do."
--Field Level Media