Marlins-Cardinals Preview

The Florida Marlins are already off to their best start in

franchise history.

Now, heralded young slugger Mike Stanton appears to be heating

up.

Stanton will try to homer for a third straight game Tuesday

night when the Marlins continue their series against the St. Louis

Cardinals, who send Kyle McClellan to the mound looking to become

the NL’s first five-game winner.

Florida improved to a franchise-best 18-9 after a 6-5 win over

St. Louis (16-13) in Monday’s series opener. The Marlins have

scored 15 runs and hit seven homers – two by Stanton – while

winning their last two games.

“We’re getting good pitches and guys aren’t missing them,” said

Gaby Sanchez, who hit a grand slam Monday. “I don’t think this team

by any means has a power problem.”

Stanton finished with three hits, including a game-tying homer

in the fifth and a leadoff triple in the eighth. The effort raised

the right fielder’s average 26 points to .260.

“That ball was absolutely scorched,” third baseman Greg Dobbs

told the Marlins’ official website about Stanton’s triple. “He’s

just so strong. The home run he hit, too. When he gets it, the ball

explodes off his bat. It’s definitely impressive.”

The Marlins will try to keep things going against McClellan

(4-0, 3.23 ERA) after St. Louis teammate Kyle Lohse failed in his

bid to become a five-game winner Monday.

The Cardinals have won all five of McClellan’s starts, although

he failed to make it through the sixth inning for the first time

Thursday, allowing five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of an

11-7 win at Houston.

“He didn’t have his good stuff (Thursday), and he knows that,”

St. Louis catcher Gerald Laird said. “He battled. That’s what good

pitchers do, battle and keep their team in the game.”

McClellan is making his first start against the Marlins after

six relief appearances in which he yielded two runs and struck out

seven in seven innings.

He’ll try to help St. Louis bounce back after it dropped to 6-7

at home following Monday’s loss.

Lance Berkman remained a bright spot for the Cardinals, homering

and driving in four runs to raise his season average to .406. He’s

batting .523 with 14 RBIs in his last 12 games, and was named the

NL’s player of the week for the second time this season Monday.

“You try to ride the hot streaks as long as you can ride them

and hope that the down times don’t last too long,” he said.

Berkman is 3 for 8 against Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 3.86), who will

take the mound for the Marlins after making only 74 pitches in his

last start.

Sanchez, who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against

Colorado on April 22, went five innings against the Los Angeles

Dodgers on Wednesday, allowing three runs and four hits before

being removed on an 86-degree afternoon. He left with a one-run

lead but the Dodgers won 5-4 in 10 innings.

Sanchez made his first start since 2008 against St. Louis last

May 19, giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1

victory at Busch Stadium.