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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, April 9th (All times Eastern)

Miami Marlins (1-3) at Philadelphia Phillies (1-2), 1:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Miami - Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 0.00) Philadelphia - Cole Hamels (0-0, 0.00)

(Sports Network) - Starting pitching certainly wasn't the problem for the Phillies this past weekend.

Philadelphia turns to a former World Series MVP today in Cole Hamels in the hopes of getting a much-needed win as the Phils host the Miami Marlins in their home opener.

The Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series with the Marlins after dropping two of three in Pittsburgh to begin the season. They rode an excellent performance from Roy Halladay to knock off the Pirates last Thursday before Pittsburgh won the final two meetings over the weekend in its final at-bat.

In total, Philadelphia's starters allowed just two earned runs in the series.

In Sunday's finale, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen drove in the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 win.

Phils starter Vance Worley allowed just one run and five hits over six innings, while Hunter Pence hit a solo homer and drove in two runs. Juan Pierre added a two-run single for the Phillies, whose bullpen blew a 4-1 lead to put the team under .500 for the first time since they were 7-8 on April 24, 2009.

"You know we've played three games and you can't say we played good," said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel. "But we've played three games. It just goes to show you much better we have to play and how much harder we have to work."

Worley got the start in Sunday's finale so that Hamels could pitch today's home opener. He'll look to get the club back to .500 after putting together an excellent 2011 campaign in which he went 14-9 in 32 games to match the second- highest win total of his career. The left-hander also set personal bests with a 2.79 earned run average and a .214 batting average against.

Hamels, 28, went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in four starts versus the Marlins last year, striking out 25 over 29 frames. That also has him on the brink of evening his career record for Miami as he is 6-7 with a 3.44 ERA against the franchise lifetime.

The Marlins have also gotten off to a slow start in 2012. They dropped their first game of the season last Wednesday in their new ballpark to the Cardinals, then lost two of three over the weekend at the Reds.

Florida was also the victim of a walk-off defeat, with new closer Heath Bell blowing a save by allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth in a 6-5 loss. He was touched for a leadoff homer in the frame and later yielded a run- scoring infield single to complete the blown chance.

"We played a great game, and for me to come out there and for me to blow it like that, they don't deserve that. I need to be better than that," said Bell.

Chris Coghlan sparked a three-run seventh-inning rally with a pinch-hit RBI double and Emilio Bonifacio had two hits and an RBI for the Marlins, who were coming off an 8-3 win on Saturday that halted a two-game slide to open the season.

Carlos Zambrano made his return to a major league mound for the first time in eight months, serving up four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six in his Miami debut.

Anibal Sanchez takes the mound today for Miami hoping to build off a solid campaign a season ago. The right-hander went just 8-9 in 32 starts, but posted a solid 3.67 ERA and set career highs with 196 1/3 innings pitched, three complete games and 202 strikeouts. Sanchez also put together a personal best six-game winning streak from April 22-June 26 of last year.

The 28-year-old is just 3-8 with a 5.08 ERA in 16 career starts versus the Phillies, including an 0-1 mark in five games a season ago despite a 3.41 ERA. Sanchez received just 2.60 runs of support when facing the Phillies last year and his 3.16 runs of support overall in 2011 ranked as the fourth-lowest among National League starters.

The Phillies won 12 of 18 versus the Marlins last year, taking seven of nine at home.

04/09 10:37:09 ET