Marlins-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

The Miami Marlins have done a good job of shutting down the San Francisco Giants through the first two games of their series.

With the way Anibal Sanchez has pitched against the Giants in the past, San Francisco could be in store for another tough day at the plate - especially if one of its best hitters is unable to go.

Sanchez looks to lead the Marlins to their seventh straight victory at AT&T Park in Thursday afternoon's finale with a Giants team that could be without Pablo Sandoval.

In Tuesday's opener, Ricky Nolasco outdueled Matt Cain in Miami's 2-1 victory. A night later, Carlos Zambrano and reliever Edward Mujica limited the Giants to five hits over eight innings and the Marlins (10-14) entered the ninth up 2-0.

San Francisco (12-12) got to closer Heath Bell for a pair of runs in the ninth to send the game to extras, but Giancarlo Stanton hit a solo homer in the 10th to lift Miami to a 3-2 victory. The Marlins have opened May with consecutive wins after losing eight of their final nine in April.

Stanton finished with three hits Wednesday and is starting to heat up, with all three of his homers this season coming in the last four games. He is 2 for 6 with a home run and double against scheduled starter Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 4.19 ERA).

While Stanton is starting to produce, Bell could soon find himself out of the closer's role.

Bell, who received a $27 million, three-year contract in December, was removed Wednesday after allowing three straight hits to open the ninth, and has an 11.74 ERA in 10 outings.

"I have to put my best guys out there and right now he's not our best guy," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Despite another meltdown from Bell, the Marlins managed to win their sixth straight game in San Francisco. Miami has held the Giants to 10 total runs in those games and two or fewer on five occasions.

Sanchez (1-0, 2.73) has provided two of those gems.

The right-hander threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory at AT&T Park on July 29, 2010, and a five-hitter in a 1-0 win there May 26. He struck out eight in each outing while walking a total of three batters.

Vogelsong was the tough-luck loser in Sanchez's last outing in the Bay Area, yielding a run in eight innings.

Sanchez might not have to face San Francisco's home run and RBI leader this time after Sandoval left Wednesday's game with a left hand and wrist injury. Sandoval, who has five homers and 15 RBIs, missed about a quarter of the season last summer after surgery on his right wrist.

"I have a lot of concern,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "You just hope for the best.''

Sanchez is coming off an impressive finish to his last start Saturday against Arizona.

After allowing two runs, three hits and two walks in the first inning, Sanchez opened the second with two more free passes. He then retired the next 18 batters - most of them via strikeouts - before exiting after the seventh inning with his team trailing 2-1.

Sanchez struck out a career-best 14 in all - the most in the majors this season - and the Marlins rallied for a 3-2 victory.

Vogelsong is set to make his fourth start after allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings of last Thursday's 6-5 victory over Cincinnati, but didn't record a decision.

In two starts against the Marlins last season, the right-hander went 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA.

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