MIAMI -- Tom Koehler on Wednesday night was primed to go where no Marlins starter had gone this season -- the distance. The right-hander fell short of that bid, but still matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts in eight innings in Miami's 5-2 win over the Brewers at Marlins Park.
Koehler won for the first time since July 23, and he nearly became the first Miami pitcher to log a complete game since Henderson Alvarez on June 3, 2014 against the Rays. Martin Prado drove in three runs, and Christian Yelich put Miami in front in the seventh inning with a two-run double off Brewers reliever Will Smith. Miami took two of three in the series and is now 4-2 on the homestand with the Nationals at Marlins Park for a three-game set beginning Friday.
The Marlins have won three straight series, and seven of nine games overall.
"We've got a lot of character guys, but at the same time we're professionals," Koehler said. "If you're packing it in regardless of how far back you are against any team, you're playing the wrong sport. You're playing to win."
The speed of Dee Gordon was a factor in two of Miami's five runs. The All-Star second baseman scored from first on Yelich's double, and in the third inning, he scored from first on Prado's two-run single to center, which pulled Miami even at 2.
"Just getting on base and making things happen," Yelich said. "Prado's been coming up with a lot of big hits lately. It's been fun. Myself and Dee have been able to get in in front of him, and he's cashing us in a bunch."
The Brewers went up 2-0 in the second, thanks in part to catcher Nevin Ashley's first MLB hit, a two-out RBI double in his first career at-bat. He formed an all-rookie battery with right-handed starter Ariel Pena, who surrendered two runs on three hits in five innings of his first big league start.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Koehler matches career K high: An exhausted Miami bullpen got some welcome relief with Koehler going deep into the game. The right-hander recorded 10 strikeouts, which matched his career high, previously set on Sept. 3, 2014 against the Mets. Koehler struck out the side in order in the fifth, and in the sixth inning he fanned Adam Lind for his 10th strikeout. The eight innings by Koehler match a career high, also against the Mets on May 7, 2014. More >
Welcome to the bigs: Called up to the Major Leagues on Tuesday after 890 games over 10 seasons in the Minors, Ashley produced an RBI double with his first big league swing in the second inning. He was the 38th player in Brewers franchise history to get a hit in his first Major League plate appearance, and the seventh to log an RBI.
"My phone is blowing up right now from friends and family," Ashley, 31, said. "I was looking for a fastball and [Koehler] threw it out over the plate. Luckily, I didn't miss it." More >
Dee's game-changing speed: Now you know why they say Gordon has game-changing speed. He scored from first on Prado's two-out, two-run single in the third inning. After Koehler singled, Gordon walked, and Prado worked the count full. Lind wasn't holding Gordon on the pitch, which allowed the speedster to get a run start on the pitch. Once Prado's single bounced into the outfield, Gordon was off to the races. Center fielder Domingo Santana's throw home was wide, and Gordon followed Koehler across the plate, tying the game at 2.
"There's not too many Gordon's in the league," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "That's impressive. Martin being able to do that, to get those runs back for us. Tremendous piece of hitting there with Martin. Dee was practically halfway down the line, so it made it pretty easy to do that." More >
Pesky pitchers: The only damage against Pena in his Major League debut on Saturday, a relief outing in Cincinnati, came on a two-run double by Reds reliever Pedro Villareal. Again on Wednesday, Pena was burned by a fellow pitcher. Koehler's third-inning single extended the frame for Prado's two-out, two-run single and the only Marlins runs off Pena.
"Without those two hits, he'd be pretty good," Counsell said. "Unscored upon, really. That was, to me, the big hitter in that inning, not being able to get that pitcher out tonight. But he did his job. He gave us a chance to win tonight."
"This is what we envisioned as we came into the season. This lineup, up and down the lineup, there is quality. [Hitting coaches] Frankie [Menechino] and Lenny [Harris] do a great job working approach. They preach it. They work it every day. Now you're starting to see it kick in, and the quality of at-bats. Executing. Taking team at-bats, moving runners over. I think because of that, you're seeing the results we've had, especially of late." --Jennings, on lineup picking up in recent weeks
"I'm not really sure what's going on. We have to get that straightened out." -- Counsell, on the troubles of left-hander Will SmithMore >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With two walks on the day, Gordon recorded just his second two-walk game of the season. The other came on May 2 against the Phillies.
The Marlins challenged a play at the plate in the fourth inning, questioning if Ashley had blocked the plate when he tagged out Derek Dietrich, who was trying to score on J.T. Realmuto's grounder to third. The Brewers were playing the infield in, and Realmuto tapped to third, Dietrich was clearly tagged before reaching the plate, but Miami challenged to see if Ashley's left leg was improperly blocking the plate. After a review of 52 seconds, the ruling was confirmed that no violation was committed.
The Brewers had better luck with their challenge. In the third inning, Ryan Braun was called out at first base after hustling down the line on an infield grounder. Manager Craig Counsell challenged the call and won, though Lind grounded out two pitches later to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers open a four-game series in Pittsburgh on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT, where Wily Peralta will pitch for the first time since a start in Cincinnati was cut short by rain after two innings. He'll pitch opposite Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett, who has been on the disabled list since since July 30 with an elbow injury.
Marlins: Off on Thursday, the Marlins open a three-game set with the Nationals beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday at Marlins Park. Jarred Cosart (1-4, 5.04) will start for Miami, with Washington countering with lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.96).