Sanchez (8-2, 2.96 ERA), who recorded the majors’ only no-hitter this season on Sept. 6, has been the best pitcher for the Marlins (74-73) down the stretch. In his last three outings, the right-hander has allowed just four earned runs over 23 innings for a 1.57 ERA and .115 opponent batting average.
He followed his historic effort with a win Monday over the NL East-leading New York Mets. Backed by three homers and seven RBIs from catcher Cody Ross, Sanchez pitched seven strong innings of a 16-5 rout.
“Anibal should maybe take him out to dinner,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said.
Uggla broke Joe Gordon’s 68-year old record for homers by a rookie second baseman with his 25th in Florida’s 6-4 win in Friday’s series opener.
“Any time you tie a record or break one, it means a lot to you,” said Uggla of surpassing the mark set in 1938. “It’s pleasing to get that milestone. I’m glad that it’s over.”
Florida, which lost 31 of 42 to start the season, begins play tied with San Francisco and 2 1/2 games behind San Diego for the wild card after the Padres’ 3-1 loss to the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
“You don’t do all this work just to play the season,” Girardi said. “We’ve done all this work to get to the playoffs. Our guys understand what’s at stake.”
While the Marlins are thinking playoffs, the Braves are trying to keep their slim hopes of making a 15th straight postseason appearance. With 15 games to play, Atlanta (70-77) remained 6 1/2 games back in the wild card following the Padres’ loss.
Smoltz (12-9, 3.86), meanwhile, is trying avoid losing four consecutive games as a starter since a career-worst five in row from April 22-May 19, 1994. That included a career low-tying 1 2-3-inning stint on May 3 when he gave up only one hit, but walked six Marlins in 6-3 loss.
His last win came at home against Washington on Aug. 26, but since then, Smoltz has allowed 16 runs and 20 hits in 13 innings for an 11.08 ERA.
Smoltz left early in his last start Monday against the Cubs with a strained right abductor muscle. He was tagged for six runs and six hits in just two-plus innings.
“It almost feels like a bad cramp,” said Smoltz, who gave up three-run homers to Jacque Jones and Derrek Lee before exiting. “It grabs me. The problem with that location is that I have to stay back and use that part of my leg to throw a baseball.
“When you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you’re not going to throw too many good pitches.”