(Sports Network) - Florida Marlins ace Josh Johnson will try to win consecutive starts for the first time in over a month when he takes the mound tonight in the opener of a three-game road series versus the New York Mets.
Johnson was 0-2 with a 4.99 earned run average in a span of five starts before beating Pittsburgh on the road last Wednesday. He held the Pirates to a pair of runs and seven hits in eight innings, just one start after lasting 3 2/3 frames in a loss at Cincinnati on August 13.
The right-hander and NL Cy Young candidate is 11-5 in 25 starts this season to go along with a 2.27 ERA. Johnson, who hasn't won back-to-back starts since mid-July, is 7-1 in 11 career matchups against the Mets.
Florida will also visit Atlanta on the trek and had a five-game winning streak halted in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Houston in the finale of a three-game series. Gaby Sanchez homered and Cody Ross had a team-high two hits for the Marlins, who got five innings of one-run ball out of starter Andrew Miller.
"You're always a little bit nervous before a start, but I felt pretty good, felt really prepared for it and to go out there and have the confidence," Miller said after his first major league appearance of the season. "I felt confident and it carried over for me."
Jose Veras was dealt the loss for allowing Hunter Pence's go-ahead homer in the top of the eighth. Florida is 7 1/2 games off the NL Wild Card lead.
New York will begin a six-game homestand versus Florida and Houston on Tuesday and has lost five of its last nine games.
The Mets are coming off Sunday's 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh in which Johan Santana delivered eight innings of one-run ball and nine strikeouts in a losing cause. David Wright drove in the team's only run and both Jose Reyes and Ike Davis ended with two hits for New York, which is eight games off the pace in the Wild Card race.
"It was a tough one," said Santana. "I made a couple of mistakes and it changed the whole ball game."
Taking the ball for the Mets tonight will be knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is 2-1 over his last three decisions. Dickey did not record a decision his past time out in a 3-2 win at Houston last Wednesday, when he was reached for two runs and nine hits through 8 1/3 innings.
The right-hander, who was coming off a 1-0 shutout of Philadelphia, dropped to 8-5 with a 2.41 earned run average in 18 starts this season. Dickey is 2-2 in five career games (three starts) against the Marlins.
Florida has taken eight of 13 meetings with New York so far this season, but the Mets have won four of the last six games in this series.