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STL@SF: Sanchez fans seven over five frames

Heading into Thursday's series finale, there are different feelings in the opposing dugouts regarding the starting pitchers. On the San Francisco side, manager Bruce Bochy will turn to Jonathan Sanchez, who has been a model of consistency over his last four starts. Meanwhile, Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa will hand the ball to rookie Lance Lynn, who will make his big league debut.

Lynn fills the spot vacated by Kyle McClellan, who was put on the disabled list Thursday with a strained left hip flexor. Lynn, the Cardinals' most advanced pitching prospect, will be looked upon to soften the blow of losing McClellan (6-2, 3.86 ERA). Lynn was the 39th overall pick in the 2008 Draft, reaching Triple-A Memphis in 2010, where he has pitched since. The right-hander went 5-3 with a 4.06 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 10 starts for Memphis prior to his promotion.

However, his debut does not come under ideal circumstances. Lynn will operate on short rest after pitching Sunday for Memphis. Yet Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak is not concerned about the quick turnaround, while La Russa is excited to see how the young hurler has progressed.

"Everything's positive on that. We wouldn't make the move, wouldn't bring him up if it wasn't positive," Mozeliak said.

"He's a year older. We saw him two years ago in Spring Training and it looked like he had a chance. This year, [he's] a little more in command of his stuff and his emotions and everything. It will be fun to look and see how he does."

Lynn takes Jaime Garcia's spot in the rotation, bumping Garcia back one day. The decision was made after Garcia tossed more than 100 pitches in fewer than four innings his last time out, expressing fatigue following the outing.

There shouldn't be too much guessing coming out of the Giants' dugout. Sanchez has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts, allowing nine earned runs over 26 innings in that span, with 25 strikeouts against eight walks. The left-hander has been particularly strong his last two times out, combining for 13 innings with only three earned runs and seven hits allowed. However, both efforts resulted in no-decisions.

Thursday marks Sanchez's second start against St. Louis this season. He gave up one earned run on four hits with seven strikeouts in five innings of work on April 8.

Giants: Crawford holding his own
Giants rookie Brandon Crawford is 24 years old, but one would have to give the shortstop some leeway when it comes to his learning curve. Consider: Crawford was called up from High-A San Jose last week and has appeared in just 79 games at the Double-A level in his career. Nevertheless, Crawford is 6-for-18 with one home run and six RBIs in his nascent career and has reached base nine times in 21 plate appearances. So far so good for a player with a little more than a full season's worth of Minor League at-bats under his belt.

Cardinals: Craig's hot bat needed
With Matt Holliday going on the disabled list due to a left quadriceps strain, the Cardinals will need Allen Craig to continue his hot hitting. Since May 19, the outfielder is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with three home runs and 10 RBIs, including a pinch-hit home run Wednesday night. He has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games, raising his average to .337 this season.

Worth noting
The Cardinals are 13-1-1 in their last 15 series since the last series between these two teams concluded on April 10. The Giants are 9-5-1 in series during that same time span.

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