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MIA@STL: Alvarez allows one run over seven innings

There is some inherent disappointment in not getting into the All-Star Game after making the team, but Tim Hudson and Henderson Alvarez will get a chance to channel any of those feelings while pitching against each other. The two right-handers will take to the Marlins Park mound on Saturday for the second game of a three-game set between the Giants and Marlins.

Alvarez was a late addition to the National League roster for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic. Had he pitched in the All-Star Game, the plan would have been for Alvarez to throw on Sunday, instead of Saturday.

"The idea was, if they got late into the [All-Star] Game, and they needed him for a couple of innings, then he was going to go two innings or three innings," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "So going into the game, I knew he was going to go two innings or he wasn't going to pitch at all. Had he gone two or three innings, we probably would have pushed him back just one day."

Alvarez was Miami's standout starter in the first half, posting a Major League-high three shutouts. Saturday will be Alvarez's third time pitching on six-plus days' rest. The first two times, he gave up eight runs (five earned) in 10 innings.

The Marlins had won 10 straight times Alvarez started, a franchise record. That streak came to an end, however, in his last outing, a loss to the Mets at Citi Field on July 12.

Alvarez is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two career starts against the Giants. Hudson has had quite the opposite experience against Miami, going 14-4 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 25 career starts against his former division rival. There are only two other clubs he has more career wins against -- the Mets (17) and Nationals (17).

Although he didn't get into the game, Hudson, who turned 39 on Monday, was certainly deserving of his fourth All-Star selection. He owns a 2.87 ERA -- a mark he's bested just once in the last decade -- to go with a 1.10 WHIP. Two-thirds of his outings have been quality starts, and he's lasted about 6 2/3 frames per game.

His last effort was not one of his best. He yielded six runs in 5 1/3 innings against the A's, absorbing his fourth loss in five games.

"There were a couple bad pitches that they took advantage of, and they hit a couple decent pitches, I thought," Hudson said after that game in San Francisco. "I don't really know what to say. Kind of unraveled on us a little bit."

Giants: Two-out hitting an area of hopeful improvement
The Giants are looking to build on Buster Posey's clutch hitting from last Sunday. He crushed a two-out grand slam to give the Giants an advantage over the D-backs, the "big hit" manager Bruce Bochy said his team had been looking for during a month that saw it go 10-22 for the worst record in the Majors since June 9.

San Francisco wound up with a few of those early against the Marlins on Friday en route to a blowout win. Brandon Crawford pulled the 11th pitch of his at-bat into the Marlins' bullpen in right field for a two-out, two-run homer in the second. Posey helped the cause as well, knocking an RBI single with two outs in third. Michael Morse, up two batters later, drove in the game's fourth run on a single to left field.

Entering Friday, the Giants' two-out hitting ranked in the middle of the pack both in the Senior Circuit (eighth) and the Majors (17th) with a .231 average. They've scored 149 runs in those situations.

Meanwhile, Marlins pitching has been lit up in two-out situations this season. Miami's pitchers have a 4.77 ERA, which ranked 12th in the NL (23rd in baseball) entering play on Friday. The Marlins' 1.48 WHIP with two outs was tied with the Rockies for second highest in the Majors. Opponents were hitting .262/.334/.409 with 55 doubles, eight triples and 30 homers.

Marlins: Fast start essential
The way the Marlins slumped into the All-Star break -- losing four straight -- increased the importance of getting off to a quick start in the second half.

"That was a tough last few games," Redmond said. "Of course, getting out of the chute in the second half is going to be important. We're playing good teams, tough teams, right out of the chute. Hopefully the break rejuvenated us, and we can go out there and keep battling. It should be a big challenge for us."

After three games with the Giants, the Marlins will take to the road and face the Braves four times at Turner Field.

"It's now or never, man," slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. "We took a downward turn at the end of the first half. There is no more time to mess around. If we're going to make a push, it's now."

Worth noting
• Miami left fielder Christian Yelich's double in the third inning on Friday extended his hit streak to 11 games. Six of those games have been multi-hit efforts.

• Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro didn't start Friday's game because of a stuff neck, though he was available to pinch-hit.

• Stanton's homer in the sixth inning on Friday snapped a drought of 75 plate appearances without a blast. It matched the second longest homer-less stretch of his career. Stanton previously homered on June 26 at Philadelphia.

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