By Joe Frisaro and Steve Wilaj
MLB.com |@JoeFrisaro |
MIAMI -- History came the hard way for Jose Fernandez on Friday. On a night the right-hander gave up six runs in five innings, he was backed by Justin Bour's three-run homer and four RBIs from Jeff Mathis in Miami's 12-11 win over the Braves at Marlins Park.
In one of the wildest games of the season, the Braves rallied back from a 12-6 deficit, closed the gap to one run with the bases full and one out in the eighth inning. But Miami's Kyle Barraclough worked out of the jam.
Despite giving up a career high in runs at Marlins Park, Fernandez became the first pitcher since 1900 to win his first 17 decisions at home to start a career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) each won their first 16 home starts. Fernandez now is 17-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 26 home starts since 2013.
"It's fun. But not just for this game only," Fernandez said. "We've been playing really good baseball lately. It's fun to finish the season strong. We're looking forward to finishing this season strong and to next year in Spring Training."
Miami has won three straight, and moved five games ahead of Atlanta for third place in the National League East. The Marlins also are 14-8 in September, their most wins in any month.
But the night Fernandez put himself in the record books, the story of the night for Miami was the offense, which pounded out 20 hits. Bour had three hits and was a triple shy of the cycle. Christian Yelich had three hits and was a homer shy of the cycle. Dee Gordon added three hits.
Braves starter Ryan Weber, who was staked to a four-run lead in the first, gave up seven runs on nine hits in two-plus innings. Freddie Freeman belted a two-run homer for Atlanta in the seventh, and Nick Markakis led the game off with a homer off Fernandez. In the eighth inning, Adonis Garcia delivered a two-run double.
"We battled and swung the bats," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We scored four [runs] off of Fernandez, which is pretty good, since he doesn't give up four in three starts. But if you pitch well, you have a chance to win ball games -- and our starter couldn't get deep into the ballgame."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dee's speed sets up four-run first: After falling behind by four runs in the first, Gordon used his game-changing speed to get Miami quickly back into the game. Leading off the first, Gordon grounded to first, but he out-dashed Weber to first base. Three batters later, Bour's three-run homer pulled the Marlins even at 4, and they didn't look back the rest of the game.
"Offensively, I'm not sure where to start but, wow!" Miami manager Dan Jennings said. "For us to come back and answer in the first inning with four runs. J.B.'s bomb there. Tremendous."
History the hard way: It may have been a historical win, but it was hardly vintage Fernandez. Making it through five innings was a challenge, especially after his 35-pitch, four-run first inning. In the fifth inning, Fernandez allowed two runs, but was able to retire Hector Olivera on a fly ball to right on his 96th and final pitch. Some perspective on Fernandez's night: In 46 career starts, he has given up as many as four earned runs six times. He had never allowed more than three runs in his first 25 starts at Marlins Park.
"The sign of a good pitcher is the ability to compete without your best stuff or best command," Jennings said. "I think he showed you that tonight." More >
Braves come back...almost: After facing a seven-run deficit at one point in the game, the Braves trimmed the Marlins lead to 12-11 in the eighth inning when Nick Swisher pinch-hit with one out and the bases loaded and walked for Atlanta's third run of the frame. Miami then brought in Barraclough, who promptly cut short the Braves' rally. Barraclough struck out Andrelton Simmons for the second out of the inning, before Cameron Maybin grounded out to third as the Braves left the bases loaded and squandered a golden opportunity.
"There's no negatives when you get down 11-4 and come back and give it a run," Freeman said. "We never quit -- and had an opportunity to even win this game. So it was definitely an interesting, but fun game to play." More >
Weber spoils opportunity: The Braves righty couldn't ask for much more when his offense tagged Fernandez for four first-inning runs to begin the game. However, Weber didn't hold that advantage for long. After four Marlins came to the plate in the bottom of the first, the score was already tied. Weber then exited after loading the bases in the third inning -- and all of those runs came around to score when Ryan Kelly allowed a bases-clearing double to Mathis.
"I was thinking 'This is a perfect opportunity,'" Weber said. "Then they got some runners on and I knew I had to bear down to hopefully get a win. But it didn't fall my way."
"What can you say about Mathis tonight? Tremendous, tremendous at-bats. And behind the plate. He probably saved three or four runs with his ability to block the ball." -- Jennings, on the play of his veteran catcher
"We know we're going home at the end of the year and he still wants to play, so that should send a message in itself. That speaks for himself. Everybody in here knows he's injured, but he still goes out there and battles. We really have nothing to play for but pride -- we're not going to the playoffs -- so that says a lot about him." -- Braves outfielder Michael Bourn, on first Freeman, who went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs while playing with an injured right wrist
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Marlins have never had a player hit for a cycle. Bour was a triple shy, and Yelich was a homer away.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Julio Teheran (10-7, 4.20 ERA) tries to stay hot when he gets the ball at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park. On Sunday against the Phillies, he was perfect for seven innings before walking away with a victory after 8 1/3 innings.
Marlins:Justin Nicolino (3-4, 4.50) looks to get back on track Saturday as the rookie left-hander has a 5.87 ERA in September.
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.