The Houston Astros (4-4) and Miami Marlins (3-6) will close out a three-game National League series on Sunday afternoon inside Marlins Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET

Houston Astros at Miami Marlins 

The Miami Marlins were unable to hold a ninth-inning lead in dropping Saturday's game against the Houston Astros

Houston will play a rubber game for the third consecutive series to start its 2012 campaign, coming off a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.  The Astros certainly benefited from the Marlins making three critical errors in the ninth inning.  “We’re a scrappy ball club,” commented Astros closer Brett Myers.  The starting staff has been solid in posting a 3.88 ERA this year, while the bullpen checks in with a 2.70 ERA, which is the sixth-lowest mark in the NL.  Houston is 19-34 when playing on Sunday the last two-plus seasons.

Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will be making his second start of the year, coming off an 8-3 home win over the Atlanta Braves on April 9, as he gave up three runs and six hits over six frames.  The left-hander has tallied a solid 7-3 mark and 3.39 ERA in 26 career daytime appearances (19 starts).  He will be facing the Marlins for the ninth time (sixth start), posting an even 2-2 mark and 4.79 ERA in those appearances.

Miami was just an inning away from posting its second consecutive win inside Marlins Park, but closer Heath Bell continues to struggle in the final frame, giving up eight hits in just three innings of work over four appearances.  The Marlins offense will need a big performance out of their pitching staff this afternoon, as the lineup has struggled against Happ in the past.  The club has still managed to win seven of the past nine meetings in this series.  Miami is 30-27 in April and the “over” is 32-24 in that situation since the start of the 2010 campaign.

Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 2.84 ERA) is coming off a 6-2 road win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 9, surrendering just two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings of work.  The right-hander brings in a solid 3-1 mark and 2.37 ERA in five career starts versus the Astros, but has never faced them inside today’s new environment.  In two previous outings against them at Sun Life Stadium, Sanchez was 2-0 and didn’t allow a run in 14 combined frames.

Bettors will likely play the “under” due to it being 5-1-2 in Sanchez’s last eight starts as a home favorite of -151 to -200.

Recommendation: Under 7.5 

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