Sanchez, Marlins seek to avoid sweep in Pittsburgh

Miami may be a popular destination spot, but Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez has been logging plenty of time on the road.

The right-hander makes his fourth straight road start today in the finale of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sanchez's personal road swing didn't get off to the best of starts as he was charged with five earned runs over five innings of a no-decision at Milwaukee on July 3. However, five days later he logged six innings of two-run ball in another no-decision at St. Louis, then opened the second half with a win over the hosting Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Sanchez was charged with just two runs -- one earned -- on nine hits and two walks while striking out seven over seven frames of a 9-5 win. He is 2-0 over his last four starts and 5-6 with a 3.95 earned run average in 18 outings in 2012. That includes a 3-1 mark and 2.76 ERA in nine starts on the road.

"Anibal threw the ball very well, maybe the best he's thrown the ball in a while," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said on his club's website. "One thing about it, when we make a mistake behind him, come back and shut it down. Most of the time when somebody makes a mistake behind him, you see him lose a little bit of the concentration and get wild and make a bad pitch. I think today he went out and made the right pitch at the right time."

The 28-year-old did lose a 3-2 decision at home to the Pirates on May 14, charged with all three runs over seven frames. That dropped him to 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates hope that Jeff Karstens can continue to have success eating up innings in today's finale.

Karstens has made four starts since missing over two months due to injury and has logged at least seven frames in each of his last three outings. He won the first two, but did not factor into a 5-4 setback at Colorado on Monday after yielding four runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings.

The 29-year-old righty is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in seven starts this season as well as 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA in four career meetings with the Marlins, including one start.

The Pirates lost all six meetings with the Marlins last year and 15 of the previous 18 encounters overall before taking the first two contests of this series. Pittsburgh now looks for its first sweep of Miami since April 20-22, 2009 at home.

An unusual fourth inning led to a 5-1 win on Saturday for the Pirates, who scored four runs in the frame without recording a hit.

The first two batters of the inning were hit by a pitch and Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett reached first on a throwing error on his sacrifice bunt attempt that scored a run. Following a walk to load the bases, Neil Walker lifted a sac fly and Andrew McCutchen then drew a walk to fill the bags again.

Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee followed with bases-loaded walks before Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas both struck out to end the frame.

"It's been a long time since I've seen four runs score without a hit," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Burnett, who improved to 7-0 in the Steel City this year, surrendered a run on eight hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings.

McCutchen, who came in hitting .500 in July, went 1-for-4. Walker tallied a hit and an RBI, while Jones registered a pair of RBI for the Pirates, who only logged five hits as they won their fourth consecutive game to sit a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds for first place in the NL Central.

Carlos Zambrano was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on three hits and six walks over 3 1/3 frames for Miami, which has dropped four in a row.

"If I had to work on something it would be my delivery," Zambrano said. "I definitely will work on it in my next bullpen session."

Hanley Ramirez was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game for the Marlins due to an infected right hand. He originally sustained an injury to the hand when he hit a fan on July 8 and is unlikely to play today.