By Joe Frisaro and Steve Wilaj
MLB.com |@JoeFrisaro |
MIAMI -- It may have been just the second start for Jose Fernandez in his return from Tommy John surgery, but the 22-year-old right-hander was in midseason form, striking out nine over seven shutout innings. Fernandez's gem set the tone in the Marlins' 2-0 victory over the Reds on Thursday night at Marlins Park.
Fernandez improved to 14-0 (1.17 ERA) in 22 career starts at Marlins Park, and he helped Miami snap its four-game losing streak. According to The Elias Sports Bureau, Fernandez is the third pitcher since 1900 to win each of his first 14 home decisions. The others are Johnny Allen (1932-33 Yankees) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82 White Sox), who both had their streaks reach 16 games.
Dee sets first-half record: All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon set the table for a first-inning run. The speedster also set a franchise record in the process. Gordon singled to lead off the first, and after swiping two bases, he scored on Bour's double. Gordon's single was his 118th hit, the most ever for the Marlins prior to the All-Star break. Juan Pierre (2003) and Hanley Ramirez (2007) each had 117. Gordon finished with two hits, giving him 119 on the season.
Reds threaten, but stall: After failing to threaten for most of the first five innings, the Reds put two on with one out in the seventh inning on to back-to-back singles by Marlon Byrd and Eugenio Suarez. But the rally stalled when Barnhart grounded into a double play to end the inning, as Bour narrowly held first base on Gordon's slightly off-target throw.
"[Fernandez] managed the late game situation in the seventh very well when we put together a couple hits to get it going," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Manufactured insurance: With runs being scarce, the Marlins relied on Gordon's speed to manufacture an insurance run in the fifth inning. Gordon singled to open the inning, and he advanced to second on Christian Yelich's walk. Looking to make something happen with his legs, Gordon made a dash to third on a pitch in the dirt. Barnhart, the catcher, gathered the ball and had Gordon caught between second and third. Gordon moved towards second, prompting a throw, but he reversed and swiped third. It put runners on the corners and Gordon would score on Adeiny Hechavarria's 6-4-3 double play.
"The little things. I was able to do the little things," Gordon said. "That's what we need to do. We're not going to overpower anybody, especially with a guy like me on the team. Just continue to do the little things. Bour stepped up with two outs, big hit. Hechy, putting the ball in play. We just gave Jose a little cushion. He's one of the best in the game."
Heart of order can't deliver:Joey Votto certainly gave the Reds a strong start to the ninth when he doubled off of Ramos to begin the frame. But the heart of Cincinnati's order couldn't muster any production. Todd Frazier flied to left, Jay Bruce struck out and Byrd popped out to A.J. Ramos to end the game, as Votto marked the fifth runner the Reds left on base for the night.
"True No. 1s are that. They're streak-stoppers. Jose definitely has that ability. We have other guys who have that ability. We needed a win after losing four on that road trip. A couple of them we had, we felt like we let slip away. But when you have a true No. 1 like that, he can step up, slam the door and turn the tide. Now we have to ride this momentum and turn it over to tomorrow's starter." -- Miami manager Dan Jennings, on Fernandez stopping the four-game losing streak.
"Obviously tonight he had some great velocity on the ball and mixed his pitches up well. He threw them all for strikes. He's Fernandez -- he's a great pitcher." -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, on Fernandez's performance.
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Yelich, who walked in the fifth inning, has reached safely in 11 straight games, his longest such streak of the season. He is batting .444 (16-for-36) with a .556 on-base percentage in the stretch.
VOTTO'S SMOOTH FIELDING
Votto flashed the leather at first base in the bottom of the eighth inning when he started a 3-6-3 double play. After Hechavarria walked to begin the frame, Bour smashed a liner to first. But Votto didn't flinch as he picked the short-hop on the backhand, tossed it to Suarez at second and recovered to cover the bag to complete the slick play.
Reds:Mike Leake (5-5, 4.39 ERA) tries for his second win against the Marlins in less than a month at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday. The righty threw seven scoreless innings against Miami on June 19.
Marlins:David Phelps (4-4, 4.03) is back in the rotation, and gets the start on Friday for the 7:10 p.m. ET start. The right-hander has thrown out of the rotation and bullpen this season, but he is taking the spot vacated when Jarred Cosart was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Phelps has made 13 starts and four relief appearances.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.