MIAMI -- To say Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had an off night at Marlins Park is an understatement. To fully understand what the Cardinals did on Thursday night in their 5-4 win, you have to review just how dominant the 23-year-old right-hander has been at home.
St. Louis became the first team to homer twice off Fernandez at Marlins Park, and that has happened just three times in his 67 overall starts. The righty also saw his home record fall to 26-2 and his ERA rise to 1.62.
"I'm not happy about my personal results," Fernandez said. "Any time you score four runs and you have your ace on the mound, you should expect to win. Honestly, that one is on me."
Even on an off night, Fernandez still managed to strike out nine. But his pitch count rose to 94 in the fifth inning, and his outing was over.
Fernandez was tagged for five runs on six hits. He allowed a two-run homer to Aledmys Diaz, his childhood friend in Cuba, and a solo shot to Matt Holliday. Both blasts came in the third inning, the first time he's ever been taken deep twice in the same frame.
"It was a mistake," Fernandez said of the Diaz homer. "I didn't think it was gone, honestly, but it just kept going. He put a good swing on it. It's a tough team, and they're playing well."
Fernandez has made 38 starts at Marlins Park, and Thursday was just the eighth time he didn't last as long as six innings.
"Not his sharpest tonight," catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "Kind of erratic with the fastball. He wasn't locating as well as we know he's capable of. Against a good team like that, and the way they hit the way they do, they're going to make you pay for that."
Even after the rough third inning, Fernandez had a chance to minimize damage, but the Cardinals tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning. Jeremy Hazelbaker tripled to open the inning, and with two strikes, Diaz got Fernandez again, this time with an RBI double.
"I honestly thought I had some good pitches going," Fernandez said. "I felt strong. I felt great. They just came on top today. That's what baseball is. I'll never figure it out. All the numbers and all that stuff, and you just got to keep battling and working hard."
Dropping the series opener placed the Marlins in a tie with the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.
"I have no doubt how good we are, and the best part is we all know it, and we all feel it," said the right-hander, who turns 24 on Sunday. "No matter what, I know those guys have my back and they're going to go out there tomorrow and do what I couldn't do today."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.