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German Marquez will have a tough time topping his near-no-hitter in his most recent outing, but the Colorado Rockies right-hander will give it a try against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday in Denver.

Marquez (7-6, 3.62 ERA) has been nearly unhittable in his past three starts, as the Pittsburgh Pirates learned on Tuesday. He came within a hanging slider of keeping the Pirates without a hit before finishing the job on 92 pitches in an 8-0 victory.

Now, Marquez will aim to continue his string of strong outings in the finale of the four-game series on Sunday. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Carlos Martínez (4-9, 6.38).

The Rockies won two of the first three games of the series, including a 3-2 victory on Saturday night on the strength of Trevor Story’s three-run homer in the seventh inning.

Marquez’s gem against the Pirates was something he had been building toward with his previous outings. In his past 23 innings, Marquez has allowed just one run on four hits and struck out 14 batters.

In the two starts leading up to his last one, Marquez held Milwaukee to one hit over six innings and Seattle to two hits over eight.

“I felt it in Seattle,” Marquez said of his opportunity for a no-hitter. “When I threw against Milwaukee, I felt it. And (Monday) was really close — just one pitch. I think I’ll have it pretty soon. Next year? In a couple years? But I think I’ll have it.”

Marquez has pitched well in his career against the Cardinals. He is 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in five career starts.

Martinez also is coming off a good start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. He allowed one run on four hits in six innings to end a personal five-game losing streak.

Martinez was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation after St. Louis moved Saturday’s starter, Wade LeBlanc, into the mix.

“This is a guy that, he’s not going to back down from competition. He never has,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said of Martinez after Tuesday’s win. “It’s just a matter of him being consistent, to go out and do what he needs to do in between starts and on the mound that every fifth or sixth day. His preparation was good and his execution was good behind it. Now it’s time to do it again.”

If history is a guide, Martinez has a chance for another good outing — at least when it comes to his record. He is 5-1 with a 5.49 ERA in 14 career appearances (seven starts) against Colorado. He is also 3-1 with a 4.37 ERA in six career appearances (three starts) at Coors Field.

Martinez started against the Rockies in St. Louis on May 8, giving up five earned runs in five innings. Despite his struggles, he picked up the win after the Cardinals held on for a 9-8 victory.

–Field Level Media