Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 9: Heading to Miami, planning to help finish the Marlins’ dream of reaching the playoffs.

The Phillies (86-67) will played their final road games of 2008 as they get ready to face the third place Marlins (80-72) for three games in Miami. The first game of the series will be played at Dolphin Stadium tonight and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-11, 4.06), who is coming off a complete game win over the sliding Brewers on September 14, as he gave up only one earned run on two hits, in the Phillies’ 6-1 win in the nightcap of a day/night doubleheader. Since coming back from his minor league assignment, Myers has been red hot, going 7-2, with two no-decisions in eleven starts, posting an ERA of 1.80. One of those two losts, sadly, came at the hands of the Marlins on September 10, as he went seven and a third innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 lost. The numbers are deceptive, though, as Myers controlled the fish for the first six innings, giving up just three runs in those innings, but getting little, if any, runs support from the Phillies’ bat, especially after they had tied up the game in the fifth. Myers will be looking to even his overall season record and for his eighth win since his return, while hoping that the Phillies will this time give him some very early runs support against the fish. The Marlins will counter with Josh Johnson (5-1, 3.30), who is coming off a win against the Nationals on September 13, as he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Marlins’ 4-2 win. In his previous start against the Phillies on August 5 he picked up a win as he went six innings, giving up no runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 8-2 win. He will be trying to extend the Marlins’ eight games winning streak while hoping to snap the Phillies’ seven games winning streak.

The keys to the game will be for the Phillies’ offense to stay hot and give Brett Myers an early lead which he can work with. Although the Braves would cool the bats off in the final game of the three games series in Atlanta, the fact that Pat Burrell has hit the ball hard in his last three at bats, leading to a home run and a single, might mean that he is finally ready to break out of his slump. If so, it couldn’t happen at a nicer time, as the Phillies’ offense really need to take the pesky Marlins out of the game real early so that they won’t be able to do anything late. Myers’ key to winning will be to just keep doing what he’d been doing against the rest of the National League since his return from Lehigh Valley, while keeping the Marlins’ young bats quiet so that they won’t be given the chance to become a spolier against the Philles. If anything else, the Phillies need to show their host how much they enjoy them being around for most of the season by ending their dreams of a playoff spot right now.

The Phillies are a half game ahead of the Mets, as the Mets prepare to meet the Braves for a three games series. They are five and a half games ahead of the Marlins, who will be hosting the Phils for three games, starting tonight. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets lead the Brewers by a game and a half as the Brewers face the Reds in Cincinnati for three games. The Mets now lead both the Marlins and the Astros by five games, as the fish host the Phillies while the Astros will play the Pirates for three games. The Phillies will be looking to continue their winning streak and to increase their lead in the Eastern Division while trying to end the Marlins’ pennant hopes in both the division and the wild card.

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