The righty took a three-hitter into the seventh, Omar Infante hit a pair of solo homers and the Miami Marlins spoiled the Philadelphia Phillies' home opener with a 6-2 victory on Monday afternoon.
Sanchez (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, outpitching two-time All-Star Cole Hamels (0-1).
Sanchez was held back a week at the start of the exhibition season because of a tender pitching shoulder and was limited during spring training. Even manager Ozzie Guillen had concerns until now.
"I was worried because he missed a start in spring training," Guillen said. "He threw the ball well."
A 13-game winner in 2010, Sanchez rounds out a formidable rotation as the No. 5 starter.
"I don't care if I'm first of fifth, we have a good rotation," Sanchez said. "I'm glad to be in it."
Gaby Sanchez had two hits and two RBIs, Emilio Bonifacio had three hits and Austin Kearns hit a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon.
Missing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of their lineup, the Phillies continued to struggle offensively. They've scored eight runs and are off to a 1-3 start.
"We're not hitting the ball hard enough to score runs," manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies didn't score until the seventh when Freddy Galvis hit a two-run double for his first major league hit, snapping an 0-for-12 start.
The new-look Marlins improved to 2-3 and bounced back after Heath Bell blew his first save opportunity for his new team in a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday.
Before the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he will return to Florida on Tuesday's off day to apologize at Marlins Park for telling a magazine he loves Fidel Castro.
The Phillies are seeking their sixth straight NL East title, but anything less than a World Series title will be a disappointment in a city that's been spoiled by success.
Injuries to Howard and Utley have dramatically lessened the hype compared to the start of last season when the Phillies were prohibitive favorites to win it all.
They didn't, of course.
After leading the majors with a franchise-record 102 wins, the Phillies were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by eventual champion St. Louis.
When the home crowd last saw their Fightin' Phils play a meaningful game, Roy Halladay was outdueled by Chris Carpenter in a 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the NLDS. Howard made the final out and ruptured his left Achilles in the process, the lasting image of him writhing in pain on the ground lingered throughout the winter.
Hamels allowed four runs — three earned — and eight hits, striking out nine in 5 1-3 innings. The lanky lefty made the first start of an important year for him. He's set to become a free agent after the season and should get a lucrative deal if he goes injury-free and puts up typical numbers.
"It's a long season," Hamels said. "We have to go out and keep on battling. We have to fight through it."
Jose Reyes, one of Miami's four big-name acquisitions, led off the game with a single and Bonifacio followed with a single. After a double steal, Reyes scored on Hanley Ramirez's groundout to second base. Hamels stranded Bonifacio at third by striking out Gaby Sanchez and Kearns.
Ramirez led off the fourth with a double to left and scored on Sanchez's single to right for a 2-0 lead.
Infante drove one out to left to make it 3-0 in the fifth. He lined one over the left-field wall off Joe Savery leading off the seventh, giving the Marlins a 5-0 lead. Infante fell a single shy of the cycle on Saturday night against Cincinnati.
Shane Victorino and John Mayberry Jr. hit consecutive singles off Sanchez in the seventh. Galvis hit a high drive to left to knock in two and get the Phillies within 5-2.
A crowd of 45,574 was the 205th consecutive regular-season sellout at Citizens Bank Park. The pregame festivities included players coming in from behind the stands in left-center field. They walked through the crowd, mingled with adoring fans, and down a staircase placed on the warning track that led to the field.
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