MIAMI (AP) - Gregor Blanco struck out swinging to end the game, leaving two runners on base in the San Francisco Giants' 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
That's about the only thing that went wrong Saturday for Blanco, who recorded his second straight three-hit performance.
``I feel really good,' Blanco said. ``I've been working on hitting more balls on the ground and it's been great. I'm more confident. This game is all about opportunities and I know I can do good things.'
Blanco is 8 for 14 in the series with two doubles, four runs scored and an RBI. He's hitting .325 (25 of 77) in May.
``All you need to do is prepare and try to maintain every single game,' Blanco said.
Blanco had three of San Francisco's nine hits as Miami starter Mark Buehrle pitched into the eighth inning.
Giancarlo Stanton hit two doubles and scored twice while Logan Morrison drove in two runs for the Marlins, who moved within a victory of tying the team record for the most in a month. Miami is a major league-best 18-7 in May. The Marlins went 19-10 in August 1997.
``It's outstanding, we're playing some good ball,' Buehrle said. ``Everything is coming together at the same time. Hopefully we can keep it going into the next month and the couple days we have left in this month.'
Buehrle (5-4) allowed two runs and eight hits while throwing 69 of 100 pitches for strikes. He was replaced by Steve Cishek after Ryan Theriot tripled to center past a diving Chris Coghlan with one out in the eighth. Cishek retired Melky Cabrera on a ground out, which scored Theriot. Buster Posey grounded out to end the inning.
``He's going to give you his heart out there,' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``I know this man for many years and every time he's out there I guarantee you he's going to give you everything he has. He's worth every penny he's ever made win or lose.'
Heath Bell, who was pulled in the ninth during Friday's game in favor of Cishek as Bell allowed two runs and retired just one batter, continued his struggles. Bell allowed a single to Angel Pagan to open the ninth and after recording an out, he walked the next two batters, ending his night early again.
``As a manager, the last thing you want to do is take your closer out every day,' Guillen said. ``That's a very hard feeling and tough situation. We give him every opportunity we can to come out of this once again and he can't get it done.'
Bell signed a three-year $27-million contract in the offseason, but has struggled to deliver. He is 2-3 with an 8.47 ERA and four blown saves in 11 chances.
``I don't think anyone else is trying harder than he is,' Buehrle said. ``Obviously he's frustrated going out there.'
Randy Choate relieved Bell and got Nate Schierholtz to fly out scoring Pagan cutting the deficit to 5-3. He struck out Gregor Blanco to end the game. It was Choate's first save since Sept. 23, 2009, when he was with Tampa Bay.
``Two of my hits to lefties this year was to (Blanco), so I was a little pumped that I finally got him out,' Choate said. ``I tried treating it like any other appearance. Obviously there is way more adrenaline going because the crowd is going nuts and the bases are loaded, but I tried to take it as, get the lefties out and get out of the game.'
Madison Bumgarner (5-4) took the loss allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
``Just missing today,' Bumgarner said.
With one out in the third inning and the scored tied at 1, Jose Reyes and Omar Infante each reached with base hits and successfully pulled off a double steal with Hanley Ramirez batting. Ramirez followed with a single to left scoring Reyes. After Stanton walked, Morrison grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but Emmanuel Burriss' throw bounced passed first baseman Brett Pill allowing Infante and Ramirez to score giving the Marlins a 4-1 lead.
``(Bumgarner) had that one inning,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``That's what's been happening the last couple of days. We're just trying to limit the damage.'
Stanton doubled to leadoff the second and scored on a single by Donovan Solano for the Marlins first run of the game. He doubled again to leadoff the sixth and scored on a double by Morrison to deep center.
``You know what you want to do (with Stanton), I just wasn't able to do it,' Bumgarner said. ``I just didn't make pitches to him. It's not any different than anybody else. I just missed and when I did he hit it.'
The Giants tied the game at 1 with a base hit by Blanco as Burriss slid into home safely, narrowly beating Stanton's throw from right.
NOTES: Guillen said after the game he will consider removing Bell from the closer role for the second time this season. ``Right now, it's not working,' Guillen said. ``I'm going to sleep over it and see what ideas we come up with.' ... Giants LF Melky Cabrera came into the game hitting .692 (9 of 13) against Buehrle, but went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. ... Giants ace Tim Lincecum fell to 2-5 with a 6.41 ERA following Friday's loss. ``He's taking it hard, believe me,' Bochy said of Lincecum's struggles. ``We want to send a message that we know that he's giving it everything he's got.' ... Stanton is hitting .333 (32 of 96) in May. ... The Marlins will send RHP Ricky Nolasco (5-2, 4.31 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale as the Giants will counter with RHP Matt Cain (4-2, 2.94 ERA). .
The Associated Press News Service
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