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NYM@MIA: Koehler strikes out five in scoreless start

Tom Koehler and the Marlins have experienced their share of low points this season, but Miami, which owns the third-worst record in the Major Leagues entering Wednesday, has a youthful rotation in place that is working out the kinks.

"It's a real good group of guys, a talented group," Koehler said. "I think everybody kind of wants to go out there and one-up each other. We talk a lot, we bounce things off each other. We're all learning together. We're pretty new at this."

Koehler brings a 3-6 record and 4.52 ERA into Wednesday's middle game of the three-game series against the Pirates in 13 starts this season, but he is coming off one of the best starts of his young career. On Aug. 1 he beat Matt Harvey and the Mets with six scoreless innings -- his only scoreless outing in 14 career starts.

He started the year in the bullpen and has had mixed results since joining the Marlins' rotation on May 12. One of Koehler's low points came against Charlie Morton and the Pirates on July 27. Koehler threw five innings and allowed five runs on nine hits in a loss, getting outdueled by Pittsburgh's 29-year-old right-hander. The Marlins took two of three games in the series.

Morton will again oppose Koehler, 11 days after beating him without his best stuff. Morton lasted five innings, allowing nine hits and four (three earned) runs. He struck out six and walked none.

Morton took the loss in a rough outing against the Cardinals on Aug. 1, though, getting roughed up for five earned runs on 10 hits in six innings. He brings a 4-4 record and 4.07 ERA into Wednesday in nine starts this season.

Marlins: Koehler experiencing ups and downs of first full season
Koehler lost five of his first seven starts this season and may have thought his first big league win would never come.

But since his rough start, the 27-year-old right-hander has posted a 3-1 record and 3.18 ERA in six starts entering Wednesday.

"It's about being consistent," Koehler said. "Getting ahead of hitters. Any time you fall behind, it doesn't matter who you're facing, it's going to be a struggle. You've got to go out there, and be aggressive, right from the start."

• Justin Ruggiano lifted a routine pinch-hit flyout to center field in the eighth inning on Tuesday. Ruggiano is now 0-for-34, setting a Marlins record for longest streak without a hit by a position player. Mike Jacobs was 0-for-33 in 2007.

Pirates: Melancon getting job done with less emotion
The Pirates lost closer Jason Grilli to a strained forearm tendon on July 22 and Mark Melancon has filled in nicely, although fans may not see much of a resemblance.

Melancon is much more subdued than Grilli, but the 28-year-old right-hander is 4-for-4 in save opportunities with no runs allowed in six innings since stepping into the closer's role.

"I don't know if personality matters. It's all about getting three outs," said Melancon. "I'm not trying to show anybody up, or make myself look bigger than the team. I'm one to just bulldog, and go after it."

• With Tuesday's walk-off 4-3 win in the opener, the Pirates are 11-2 this season after an off-day.

• The three-game series against Miami will conclude the Pirates' schedule against National League East teams. They hold a 18-14 record against the division entering Wednesday's action.

Worth noting
• Since June 16, Marlins starters have given up three or fewer runs in 39 of 44 games, including nine straight.

• Since May 31, the Marlins have a 10-7-1 record in 18 series.

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