MIAMI -- You have to go back to June 3, 2014 to find the last time a Marlins starter threw a complete game. Tom Koehler nearly was able to go the distance on Wednesday night, but in the end, the right-hander was perfectly happy to settle for a win.
Koehler matched a career-high strikeouts (10) and innings pitched (eight) and Miami defeated the Brewers, 5-2, at Marlins Park. Although he was unable to record his first big league complete game, he won a decision for the first time since July 23.
"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't felt like a long time," said Koehler, who had gone eight start starts between wins. "It's felt like two seasons. Sometimes stuff like that happens. Hopefully we can start a reverse trend right now."
A complete game would have capped an otherwise sterling night for Koehler and the Marlins, who took two of three from Milwaukee, and claimed their third straight series victory.
"The team did a great job early in the game, making some outstanding defensive plays that saved me, not only pitches but runs," the 28-year-old said. "It gave me a chance to go deep."
Manager Dan Jennings was tempted to give Koehler the chance to finish what he started. But he was at 104 pitches, so A.J. Ramos came out to notch his 25th save.
"Had he been under 100, I think we would have [stayed with Koehler], because he was just so locked in," Jennings said. "I think after the third inning, they had no hits against him. He was just filling up the strike zone all night. He was in attack mode."
Koehler's season-high pitch count is 112, on Aug. 24 against the Pirates.
"At that point, 15 pitches wouldn't make or break me at this point of the year," he said. "But I understand the move. Getting the win and winning the series was the most important thing. Bringing A.J. in right there to get the save, that's how you want to try to line it up."
Jennings discussed the situation with his starater as the inning unfolded. If Miami had runners in scoring position in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game, Jennings would have pinch-hit for Koehler, who stayed in to bunt.
"I didn't really want to come out of the game, but at the same time, if there was a chance for someone to drive a run in, I would have liked them to do that as well," Koehler said. "I understood the situation. Me and D.J. talked about it before that inning started."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.