MIAMI (AP) - Another hard-luck outing for Anibal Sanchez. Another injury to Florida's up-the-middle defense. And a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the game.
No, Friday was not a banner night for the Marlins.
Sanchez's winless drought reached 10 games, center fielder Mike Cameron left the game with a sprained left hand, and Lance Berkman's RBI double in the eighth inning put St. Louis on top to stay as the Cardinals beat the Marlins 3-2.
``It was the same as the last three months,' Sanchez said. ``I throw good, everything's good, no wins.'
The Marlins had a huge chance in the ninth against Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn, who was summoned to try for his first major-league save - and went on a roller-coaster ride to get there.
Joe Thurston, selected earlier in the day by Florida from Triple-A New Orleans and back in the majors for the first time since 2009, singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and the Marlins had runners on first and second after Dewayne Wise drew a one-out walk.
Lynn - called on to close after Fernando Salas needed a combined 51 pitches in appearances Tuesday and Thursday - struck out Emilio Bonifacio on a 95 mph fastball for the second out. He then walked Greg Dobbs on four pitches to load the bases, and Stanton strode to the plate looking to add to what was already a three-hit night.
``I've known him for a while,' Lynn said. ``I faced him in the Florida State League a while back. I knew what I needed to do, what I needed to execute to get him out.'
Did he ever. Lynn struck out Stanton swinging to end the game.
Albert Pujols doubled off Sanchez (6-5) to lead off the eighth, and Berkman drove Sanchez's final pitch of the night into center field to put St. Louis on top. Matt Holliday hit his 18th home run for St. Louis and Mitchell Boggs (1-3) threw a scoreless seventh for the win - but Lynn drew the highest praise afterward.
``I was excited. Something for Lance, something for Boggs, his first win, mostly our team and the excitement of the moment,' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. ``You're facing the next young superstar in our league with the bases loaded and nowhere to go with him and you end up getting a punchout, that's a dramatic moment.'
Since beating Arizona on June 10, Sanchez has thrown 59 1-3 innings, struck out 63 and had a 4.70 ERA, giving up four or more earned runs only four times in that span. He's 0-4 in that stretch, and the Marlins are 3-7 in those games overall.
The Marlins are already ailing up-the-middle defensively, with second baseman Omar Infante going on the disabled list Friday with a broken finger and shortstop Hanley Ramirez still dealing with a sprained left shoulder.
Cameron was shaken up trying to make a diving catch, appearing to twist his wrist in the turf and writhing in pain for a few moments. Cameron remained in the game until the bottom of the sixth, when he was replaced by pinch-hitter Bryan Petersen.
Cameron was 2 for 2, raising his average to .177 for the season, .219 in 21 games with Florida.
``It got to the point where I didn't want to make myself look like a fool swinging with one hand,' Cameron said. ``It just got kind of worse over the course of the game. I just decided not to take any more chances.'
Marlins manager Jack McKeon said Cameron was in line for a day off Saturday anyway, and expected him back on Sunday.
Sanchez gave up eight hits and three runs while striking out seven in 7 1-3 innings, and it still wasn't enough to snap what now is a 10-game winless streak for the right-hander. He batted in the seventh, the Marlins clearly thinking he had one more inning of work left against the heart of the Cardinals' order.
The move backfired after Pujols and Berkman doubled two batters apart, and the Marlins lost for the sixth time in their last eight home games.
``Albert got the better of him in that situation,' McKeon said. ``When you get in those situations you can't let the big guys hurt you. Find a way.'
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, throwing 106 pitches on the steamy 89-degree night to help take some burden off a weary Cardinals bullpen.
Notes: Cardinals 3B David Freese said he was feeling a bit better Friday, one day after taking a pitch to the helmet and getting a mild concussion. The Cardinals don't anticipate placing him on the DL, and Freese could be back in the lineup in a couple days. ... Florida RHP Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to start against St. Louis for the seventh time in his career Saturday night, still seeking his first win against the club. Nolasco is 0-3 with a 7.06 ERA all-time against the Cardinals, giving up 10 hits and seven runs over five innings in each of his last two outings against them. ... RHP Chris Carpenter starts for St. Louis on Saturday. The Cardinals are 10-13 in his 23 appearances this season, matching the number of losses they had in Carpenter's 35 starts a year ago. He hasn't beaten the Marlins since Aug. 29, 2005.
The Associated Press News Service
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