MLB Insiders: Florida Marlins

The Pirates open a four-game series with the Florida Marlins on Monday night at PNC Park. Right-hander James McDonald will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Marlins will counter with right-hander Chris Volstad.

The Florida Marlins didn't fare well against a team with playoff aspirations. A matchup with the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates could provide better results.

The Marlins look to snap a three-game losing streak Monday at PNC Park, where they open a four-game series versus the major league-worst Pirates.

The Pirates will toss James McDonald (1-2, 5.40 ERA), who is trying to rebound from his first loss with Pittsburgh. After going six scoreless innings against Colorado in his Pirates debut Aug. 5, the right-hander struck out six and allowed four runs over 4 2-3 innings of Wednesday's 8-5 loss at San Diego.

This will be McDonald's first start versus the Marlins. While with the Dodgers, McDonald gave up one run in 2-3 innings of relief in a 6-3 loss to Florida on July 24, 2009.

Pittsburgh, which has dropped seven straight overall and eight of 11 at home, will try to avoid its first eight-game skid since an 0-12 stretch June 6-18. The Pirates will face Chris Volstad (6-8, 4.74), who is 2-0 with a 4.57 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.

In his only appearance against Pittsburgh, the Marlins right-hander lasted just three innings, yielding four runs in a 7-4 loss July 3, 2009.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez moved right fielder Mike Stanton up in the batting order, from sixth to fifth, on Sunday in a move that may end up being permanent.

Stanton, 20, is 14-for-24 with four home runs, five doubles, three walks and eight RBIs on the first six games of the road trip, including 2-for-4 on Sunday. He has raised his average 42 points in the first five games of the road trip, from .233 to .275.

Cody Ross will drop from fifth to sixth.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said it will be interesting to see how Stanton responds. "(Opponents) are going to pitch him different," he said.

Stanton, in typical fashion, took the move with a shrug. "It doesn't really matter as long as I'm in there," he said.

Stanton debuted at No. 7 when he was called up on June 8, was dropped to eighth for 10 games, returned to seventh and has worked his way up the lineup, batting sixth since early in the month.

REDS 2, MARLINS 0: The Marlins' struggle for consistency continues. After winning four in a row, they got swept by the Reds in three games. RHP Anibal Sanchez gave the team a chance to win but he didn't get any run support. Sanchez gave up five hits in six innings but one was a two-run homer to Miguel Cairo in the fourth inning.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Anibal Sanchez hasn't given up many homers this year. He'd given up one in his last eight starts before Miguel Cairo connected for a two-run shot in the fourth inning, giving the Reds a 2-0 win. Sanchez has allowed six in 23 starts this year.

--The team said blamed RHP Josh Johnson's worst outing of the year on mechanical flaws. "Physically, he is fine," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He knows what he needs to do. It's a mechanical issue. He was doing something wrong on the mound and he knows that."

Johnson gave up a season-high six runs and a career-high 10 hits without recording a strikeout in 3 2/3 innings in Cincinnati on Friday. He's 10-5 with a 2.27 ERA, the highest his ERA has been since it was 2.43 on May 23.

--SS Hanley Ramirez was 10-for-25 (.400) with four doubles and a home run in the first five games of the team's road trip. Since August 1, he has hit .326 with three home runs and four RBIs from the leadoff spot.

--LHP Sean West will make his next scheduled start, Thursday in Pittsburgh, after making two rocky starts since being called up from Class AAA New Orleans. He has allowed eight runs on 15 hits in 9 1/3 innings, including four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss Saturday in Cincinnati.

--With his two home runs in Friday's 7-2 loss, Rookie RF Mike Stanton, 20, became the first player under 21 years old to hit two home runs in a game since Miguel Cabrera did it in his second season with the Marlins on April 13, 2004.

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 -- Different times this year the Marlins' record has been at .500 -- an indication of how the team has struggled to consistently win. The team's longest winning streak is four and its longest losing streak is five.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't want to miss one at-bat from that guy. Regardless the score, you want to stay because maybe that last at-bat is the one that makes history. He is something special." -- Manager Edwin Rodriguez, on rookie RF Mike Stanton.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--LF Chris Coghlan (torn meniscus in left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 26. He had surgery Aug. 11, and he likely will miss the rest of the season.

--RHP Jhan Marinez (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list July 25.

--C John Baker (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 13, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 18. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter on June 5 but was shut down the next day. He resumed swinging a bat in mid-July, and he might return in late August.

--RHP Omar Poveda (Tommy John surgery in March 2010) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list April 23. He is out for the season.


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