Giants-Marlins Preview

The Associated Press

The Miami Marlins are one victory away from tying the franchise record for most wins in a month.

They appear to have a good shot at getting that victory with Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start.

Nolasco looks to win his fifth straight start over the San Francisco Giants and lead the Marlins to their 19th victory in May in Sunday's series finale in Miami.

It's somewhat surprising the Marlins (26-21) are occupying a potential wild-card spot after going 8-14 in April, but with Saturday's 5-3 win over the Giants, they improved to 18-7 in May. Miami, which survived another shaky outing from closer Heath Bell, needs to win one of its four remaining May games to match its single-month wins record. The Marlins went 19-10 in August 1997, en route to their first World Series title.

"It's outstanding, we're playing some good ball,'' said Mark Buehrle, Saturday's winning pitcher. "Everything is coming together at the same time.''

Miami can thank the Giants (24-23) for some of its success this month. The Marlins swept a three-game set in San Francisco from May 1-3, and have won two of three in this series.

Nolasco (5-2, 4.31 ERA) opened the season series by outdueling Matt Cain (4-2, 2.94), whom he will oppose again Sunday. Nolasco allowed one run in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 victory May 1, improving to 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last four outings against the Giants.

Nolasco wasn't as dominant against Colorado on Tuesday, giving up four runs and eight hits in six innings, but got credit for a 7-6 victory to become the winningest pitcher in Marlins franchise history. With a 69-53 mark, the right-hander has one more win than Dontrelle Willis recorded for the Marlins.

"A lot of great pitchers went through this organization,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He should be proud.''

Guillen should be ecstatic with how Giancarlo Stanton is playing this month.

Stanton doubled and scored twice Saturday, and is batting .333 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in May. Stanton may wish Sunday's matchup didn't conclude the season series, as he's batting .480 with four home runs, five doubles, seven RBIs and seven runs scored in the six games against the Giants. One of those homers came off Cain (4-2, 2.94), who hasn't been particularly sharp in his last two starts, but has finally received some run support.

After allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-5 victory over St. Louis on May 17, the two-time All-Star surrendered four runs and a career high-tying 11 hits in seven innings of Tuesday's 6-4 win at Milwaukee.

That stands in stark contrast to Cain's previous six starts, when he posted a 1.59 ERA but had only two wins to show for it as his offense backed him with either one run or none three times. One of those outings came when he opposed Nolasco, and gave up two runs over eight innings but was saddled with the loss.

Cain has a 3.60 ERA in three starts against the Marlins since the start of last season, but has lost all three as he's received two total runs in support.

San Francisco leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco is 8 for 14 with two doubles and four runs in this weekend's series, raising his average 46 points to .290.

"I feel really good,'' Blanco said. "I've been working on hitting more balls on the ground and it's been great. I'm more confident. This game is all about opportunities and I know I can do good things.''

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