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WSH@MIA: Anibal throws seven dominant innings in win

Not much has stood in Anibal Sanchez's way this season, as the Marlins' right-hander has held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in eight of 10 starts.

To continue that success, Sanchez will have to clear a hurdle that has proved troublesome throughout his career. The Braves start a three-game series at Marlins Park on Tuesday -- their first visit to the new ballpark -- and carry a strong history against Sanchez into the opener.

In 16 career starts against Atlanta, Sanchez is 4-10 with a 5.11 ERA, his highest mark against any team he has faced at least five times. In three starts last season, the Braves touched him up for 12 earned runs on 20 hits in 11 2/3 innings, although Sanchez struck out 14 against three walks.

Sanchez recovered from his worst start of the season to dominate the Nationals last Tuesday, holding them to an unearned run on three hits in seven innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.57 and evened his record at 3-3 following a long stretch with little run support.

"I feel good today. I think the way I always do," Sanchez said afterward. "I try to keep the score down, and just wait for the run support from the team."

The Braves, who have won three of four following an eight-game skid, will counter with Tim Hudson as they try to close the gap on the Marlins, who are 23-9 since the start of May. Miami is locked in a virtual tie for first in the National League East, two games ahead of Atlanta.

The teams split a two-game series at Turner Field on May 16-17, in their only meeting so far this season.

Hudson has seen his ERA rise to 4.60 from 3.03 after giving up 12 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings over his past two starts. He cruised through the first five innings on Wednesday against the Cardinals, but ran into trouble in the sixth.

Braves: Simmons not getting eased in
Andrelton Simmons was promoted from Double-A Mississippi to take over the starting shortstop job from Tyler Pastornicky, and he has been greeted with a dose of tough pitching.

The 22-year-old, who was batting .292 at Mississippi, made his Major League debut on Saturday against the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg. On Sunday, he stroked a double against Gio Gonzalez, the NL Pitcher of the Month for May, and is now 1-for-7 to start his big league career.

This series is scheduled to pit him against Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

"It's a good way to start," Simmons said. "I wouldn't want the easy way out."

• Brian McCann, who left Saturday's game with a left knee bruise, sat out on Sunday after experiencing some swelling in the joint overnight. He was replaced in Sunday's lineup by David Ross, but he is expected to return on Tuesday following the team's off-day.

Marlins: Foot on the gas pedal
Miami's 62 stolen bases lead the Majors by a wide margin, and come with a strong 79 percent success rate.

Manager Ozzie Guillen isn't planning to take the green light away from top-of-the-order speedsters such as Jose Reyes in an effort to dissuade opponents from pitching around red-hot slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has 13 home runs and 35 RBIs since April 29.

"Stanton is not Barry Bonds," Guillen said. "Stanton is swinging the bat well. I respect that. I love that. I enjoy watching it. But I'm not going to take away from my players the way that they play. I like aggressiveness on the bases. We will make mistakes on the bases. That's the way we will play. We will run."

Guillen did add that he doesn't want his players stealing when Stanton is at the plate.

"That's different," he said. "But I think everybody has to keep playing the way they are playing."

• Reyes got off to a rough start in his first season with the Marlins, but since May 9, he's hitting .340 (33-for-97) with 13 walks, five doubles, a triple and eight steals in eight attempts.

"Reyes is starting to swing the bat a lot better, and he's contributing," Guillen said.

Worth noting
• The Marlins are starting a nine-game homestand at Marlins Park, where they are 16-10.

• Current Marlins have a combined .656 OPS against Hudson in 261 plate appearances, but outfielder Chris Coghlan has gone 8-for-14 (.571) with two doubles and two RBIs. Comments