After a tough inning, Koehler able to adjust, find groove

Looking sharp after allowing all four runs in third, righty wanted to pitch even more

After a tough inning, Koehler able to adjust, find groove

JUPITER, Fla. -- After retiring eight straight and reaching a Spring Training-high six innings Tuesday, Tom Koehler was ready for more.

The Marlins right-hander had settled into comfortable groove following a rough third inning, when he was tagged for four runs. But because his pitch count was at 80, Koehler was lifted prior to the seventh inning of Miami's 9-4 win over Boston at Roger Dean Stadium.

"I was trying to get one more," Koehler said. "They were like, 'You're at 80 pitches.' I was like, 'So?' But that's probably the smart decision for this time of the year.

"To get to 80 pitches and get through six ... if this is the season, I'm probably running back out there. Keep the pitch count down. I was trying to pitch to contact and hope that contact sooner or later would be to our guys."

Koehler's day pretty much mirrored the Marlins. They labored early before coming on strong late. The Marlins rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning.

On the surface, four runs in six innings doesn't look too impressive. In terms of progress, though, the outing was encouraging for the club's probable fifth starter.

"He had that one inning where he gave up the four runs, but it was nice to see him settle in and put up some zeros," manager Mike Redmond said. "Really, I thought those last couple of innings were really good. That's Tommy Koehler there. He was down in the zone."

What stood out was that Koehler overcame adversity and fixed things along the way.

"That's what you're looking for, to see guys make in-game adjustments," Redmond said. "I think he was able to do that after giving up some runs. He was able to pitch like we know he's capable of pitching."

Koehler struck out five. In his final three innings, he issued one walk, to Xander Bogaerts to lead off the fourth. But he got Jackie Bradley Jr. to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.

From there, Koehler breezed. In the sixth, he struck out Allen Craig, who belted a three-run double off him in the third. And the righty's outing ended after he fanned Rusney Castillo.

"I felt good today," Koehler said. "Pitched a little more game-like with the sequences. Obviously, I got myself in trouble. Overall, I would definitely say this is a step in a positive direction."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.