MIAMI -- Even without his best stuff, Jose Fernandez on Friday night still was able to carve himself a piece of MLB history. But it took a team effort.
Miami pounded out 20 hits and held off a late Atlanta rally for a 12-11 victory at Marlins Park. Although he gave up six runs in five innings, Fernandez became the first big league pitcher to start off his career 17-0 at home.
"I'm not going to lie," the Miami ace said. "I thought about it. I had a lot of people, a lot of friends telling me about it. I didn't want to be distracted about it. But it feels special. The fans come and support our team. I'm lucky and blessed to be out here pitching for the Miami Marlins."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 1900, Fernandez is the first pitcher to win his first 17 decisions. Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) each started off 16-0.
The National League Rookie of the Year in 2013, Fernandez has made 26 career starts at Marlins Park, where he has a 1.40 ERA.
"Tremendous," manager Dan Jennings said. "He just set a record in baseball that has been around a long time. To be able to do that in front of our fans at home is tremendous. You just have to tip your hat to the kid."
The way the night started, it didn't appear Fernandez would even have a chance at a victory. Nick Markakis homered to open the game, and the Braves sent eight to the plate in the first inning, scoring four runs.
Fernandez threw 35 of his 96 pitches in that first frame.
It didn't take long for the Marlins to answer. Dee Gordon reached on an infield single, and three batters later, Justin Bour's three-run homer tied the game.
"Very lucky. Very proud of my teammates," Fernandez said. "Dee Gordon kind of told me in the dugout. He goes, 'Don't worry, we got it.' When it was a new game. He goes, 'It's a new game for you right there. Keep it there and we'll try to win it.' "
The Marlins claimed a 7-4 lead in the third inning on Jeff Mathis' three-run double.
Mathis, who has caught Fernandez often since his rookie season, helped settle Fernandez down after the first. The veteran catcher also came through with an RBI triple in the fourth inning.
The Marlins built a 12-6 lead, and were able to hold on to give Fernandez his historic win.
"It's awesome," Mathis said. "Any time you do something no one else in this game has done is pretty cool. But credit the guys, rallying, getting behind him, putting some runs on the board and getting him back in that game, and him doing what he's capable of doing."
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.