The Miami Marlins consistently delivered late-inning drama over the weekend, but would probably prefer to avoid doing so again starting Monday when they continue a 10-game homestand with the first of three against the Chicago Cubs. The Marlins avoided a sweep versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday when they scored two in the eighth inning and one in the 10th. The late tallies were nothing new for Miami, which scored four in the ninth in a pair of losses in each of the previous two contests.
The Marlins own the National League's best home record at 23-13, but secured only their third such triumph in nine tries on Sunday and welcome the Cubs, who took two of three from the Phillies for their first series win in Philadelphia in 13 years. Chicago also won a series on the road for the first time in 13 tries this season, but is a major league-worst 13-25 away from home. The Cubs have dropped five of eight overall since a season-high five-game winning streak from June 3-7 - a stretch that came to an end when Miami avoided a three-game sweep in Chicago.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jason Hammel (6-4, 2.81 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Tom Koehler (5-5, 3.68)
Hammel - one of only nine major-league starters with a WHIP below 1.00 (0.98) - endured his worst outing of the season in Wednesday's 4-2 setback against the Pirates. The 10th-round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2002 allowed four runs on a season-high 11 hits while striking out six over a season-low five frames. Hammel settled for a no-decision on June 6 versus the Marlins despite throwing seven scoreless innings and is 1-3 with a 4.65 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) against them.
After winning his first start of June, Koehler did not factor into the decision in Tuesday's 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers after he was tagged for five runs on five hits and three walks over 5 1/3 frames. The 27-year-old New York native, who is holding opposing hitters to a .229 average, has been noticeably better at home (3-2, 2.70 ERA) than on the road (2-3, 4.70). Koehler logged his only two all-time appearances (one start) last season against the Cubs, posting a 3.38 ERA while not recording a decision in either outing.
1. Marlins 3B Casey McGehee, who is batting .411 with runners in scoring position, is hitting .419 during a 10-game hitting streak.
2. Ten of Chicago 3B Mike Olt's 22 hits (in 145 at-bats) this season are home runs.
3. Miami's 23 victories through 36 home games matches the club record set by the 1997 Marlins, who went on to win the team's first World Series title.
PREDICTION: Marlins 4, Cubs 3