Koehler providing boost to Marlins rotation

Koehler providing boost to Marlins rotation

MIAMI -- Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler continued his recent rise with seven innings of two-hit ball in Miami's 2-0 win over the Giants on Tuesday at Marlins Park. The win evened the series, which concludes with a Wednesday afternoon game.

Koehler improved to 9-8 for the season and lowered his ERA to 3.83. He's been a pleasant surprise of late and a huge shot in the arm to a team in need of quality starting pitching.

Over his last four starts, Koehler has allowed two earned runs over 27 innings for a 0.67 ERA and has gone at least six innings in each start. Koehler and the Marlins hope that streak continues as they battle for a playoff spot. After Tuesday's victory and a Cardinals loss, Miami holds a one-game lead over St. Louis for the second National League Wild Card spot.

"Hopefully it could end up being the best 12-game stretch," Koehler said. "There's a long way to go here and I'm not trying to get too high. This game can humble you quick and things can change really fast.

"I know what we're trying to do here, and I want to be a part of something special. I think this is a special group. I'm just trying to do everything I can to be a part of that."

That's a stark contrast to Koehler's previous four starts in which he allowed 14 earned runs over 16 innings and didn't reach the sixth inning once.

What's been the difference?

"Just executing pitches," Koehler said. "I think I got into a stretch where I was trying to pitch a little too fine, so I just went back to what makes me comfortable -- attacking the zone, making a couple of adjustments."

Koehler gave the Marlins exactly what they needed after an exhausting 14-inning loss Monday that depleted the bullpen.

"You realize what happened the night before, but at the same time I don't want to go out there thinking about that," Koehler said. "You don't want to put too much pressure on yourself and then it ends up backfiring. So I just stuck to the gameplan that we had and was going to go as long as they would let me."

With Tuesday's strong outing, Koehler is second on the team in quality starts with 12, three behind team leader Jose Fernandez.

Koehler and Fernandez have been instrumental in the Marlins' stellar starting pitching, especially at home since June 9. From that point, Miami starters have gone 9-3 with a 2.58 ERA over 23 starts at Marlins Park. That's second in the National League behind the Cubs.

As a team, Miami pitchers have a 2.91 ERA at home since mid-June.

The bullpen, which fell apart Monday, blowing leads of 5-1 and 6-5 in an 8-7, 14-inning loss, turned things around Tuesday. Brian Ellington completed the eighth inning allowing one hit and one walk before Fernando Rodney finished up in the ninth, facing the minimum to pick up his 19th save of the year and second save as a Marlin.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.