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MIA@SF: Sanchez fires seven innings of one-run ball

Anibal Sanchez seems more and more comfortable every time he takes the mound for the Marlins. His young opponent on Tuesday night, Astros starter Aneury Rodriguez, would probably be happy with matching Sanchez pitch for pitch.

That'll be the main storyline when Miami continues its series against Houston at Minute Maid Park. Sanchez is in a serious groove and Rodriguez, a prospect who cut his teeth at the big league level last year, but spent April in the Minors, will make his 2012 Major League debut.

Sanchez looks as good as ever right now. In his last start, he saw a personal scoreless streak snapped, but still cruised, beating the Giants in San Francisco by allowing only one run in seven innings to lower his season ERA to 2.43. The lone run he allowed ended his string of 23 scoreless innings at AT&T Park, but he didn't seem to mind.

"Anibal was Anibal," catcher Brett Hayes said. "He was attacking the zone. He was very aggressive. All of his pitches were in the zone. He's just nasty. It's definitely fun to catch when he's on like that. What can you say? He's doing his job."

The Astros would be delighted if Rodriguez did his job in a similar fashion.

The 24-year-old righty last appeared in the Majors on Sept. 28, 2011, when he threw a perfect inning of relief in the Astros' 8-0 loss to St. Louis. In six starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year, he went 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA, but with a team-leading 37 strikeouts in 29 innings. He has also held leadoff batters to a .214 average.

Last year, Rodriguez made 43 appearances in the Majors, including eight starts. He was 0-4 with a 5.80 ERA as a starter and 1-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 35 relief appearances.

"Of all the guys that are eligible to come up, he's throwing the ball really well, especially the last couple of outings," Astrosl manager Brad Mills said. "Here's a guy that made quality starts last year for us as a Rule 5 [Draft] guy, and consistency is what you're hoping he grows into."

Marlins: Stanton streaking
During his current 10-game hitting streak, which is the team high this season, Giancarlo Stanton is batting .333 (12-for-36) with two doubles, six home runs and 12 RBIs. The team is 8-2 during that stretch. On April 29 against Arizona, he snapped a career-long home run drought at 97 at-bats and 27 games with a three-run shot in the ninth inning. Since that day, he is 11-for-35 (.314) with two doubles, six homers and 12 RBIs in nine games.

• Emilio Bonifacio has 27 hits this season, all of them singles. That is the longest streak of singles to open a season in club history, beating out a 21-single streak by Chris Coghlan in 2010. Bonifacio had 21 singles in April. Since 1900, that tied Brett Butler (1982 for Atlanta) and Jerry Grote (1976 for the Mets) for the second-most April singles without an extra-base hit, behind Juan Pierre, who had 29 for Colorado in 2002.

• In three starts at Minute Maid Park, Sanchez is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA (eight earned runs in 16 1/3 innings), and the Astros have batted .377 (26-for-69) against him, with four doubles and a triple.

Astros: Middle infielders rocking
Second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Jed Lowrie have the highest combined batting average of any second base-shortstop combination in the Majors with a .338 (66-for-195) clip. Also, Altuve leads the National League in multi-hit games (15), is among the leaders in hits (39) and leads all Major League second basemen with a batting average of .351.

• In his last five games, third baseman Chris Johnson has three homers and 10 RBIs while hitting .368 (7-for-19) in that span.

• Through 29 games, Astros hitters have combined for 102 walks (3.52 per game). In 2011, the Astros were last in the Majors in walks with 401 (2.47 per game).

Worth noting
• Bonifacio has gone 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, which is the second most successful start to a season in franchise history. The current club record is held by Chuck Carr, who swiped 15 bags before he was first caught stealing in 1994.

• Despite a 13-16 record, the Astros have scored 132 runs this season, while allowing 122. Comments