For the first time this season the Marlins had lost a series, and were in sweep-avoidance mode Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
Anibal Sanchez had the ball for the Fish, and started the game just a tad differently than his last start, when he gave up three runs to the Phillies in his first inning. This time, Sanchez held the Astros scoreless through 6, and it was the Marlins who scored three runs to open the game.
Against Felipe Paulino in the first, Chris Coghlan walked, Hanley singled, and both of them scored on a single by Jorge Cantu, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games, dating back to last season. Cantu advanced to second on Carlos Lee's fielding error, and he scored on a sacrifice by Dan Uggla to make it 3-0.
Felipe Paulino settled in after the first inning, and didn’t allow another run until the top of the sixth when he loaded the bases on a single from Cantu, a double from Uggla, and a walk to John Baker. Cody Ross drove in two on a single to center, to give the Marlins a 5-0 lead.
Anibal cruised through the first six innings of the game, but ran into trouble in the seventh when he gave up a single to Humberto Quintero and plunked Tommy Manzella to put two on with nobody out. Corey Sullivan grounded out to advance the runners, and the pesky Michael Bourn singled to drive in the Astros first run of the game.
Sanchez got Kaz Matsui to line out, and his night on the mound was done after 6 2/3 strong innings. Sanchy gave up 9 hits--all singles--and just one run. He also didn't issue a walk in the game.
After the bullpen stunk it up in the first two games of the series, they took a night off from the theatrics, much to the delight of the collective blood pressures of Fish fans. With Burkman up to bat, Pinto came in to record the final out of the inning. He got Lance Berkman to ground out to end the threat.
Chris Leroux followed Pinto with a 1-2-3 eighth, and Leo Nunez struck out the side to end the game.
The Fish avoided the sweep, but lost their first series of the season in Houston.
It had to happen sooner or later.