Fernandez, Marlins spoil Kershaw's return

Fernandez, Marlins spoil Kershaw's return

MIAMI -- The return of Clayton Kershaw lasted three innings on Friday night, and the Marlins were able to do enough early damage to give Jose Fernandez some breathing room. Fernandez did the rest, turning in arguably his best outing of the season.

In a matchup of aces, Fernandez posted a dominating performance, matching a career high with 14 strikeouts in seven shutout innings. He was backed by a J.T. Realmuto home run in the first inning as the Marlins beat the Dodgers, 4-1, at Marlins Park, snapping Los Angeles' five-game winning streak.

"We know how big every game is, how important they are," Fernandez said. "It's a big game for us. I think everybody in here is very happy."

With 21 games remaining, the Marlins stayed five games back of the Mets, winners over Atlanta, for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Wild Card standings

Back from a herniated disk injury that had kept him out since June 26, Kershaw allowed a one-out home run to Realmuto on his sixth pitch of the first inning. Realmuto connected on a 2-1, 89.3-mph slider and drove it over the wall in left.

"Fastball command was good, velocity good, the delivery was good," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw. "The curveball wasn't where it normally is and will be. The slider, some were good, some backed up. We sort of expected that."

Dodgers ease Kershaw back

Marlins manager Don Mattingly, of course, managed Kershaw in the past in Los Angeles.

"I'm not really watching him pitch," Mattingly said when asked about Kershaw. "I'm really kind of watching our hitters and see if we're staying with what we're trying to do with him. I thought we did a pretty good job of making him pitch. I've seen him really good. Obviously, he's just coming back, so he didn't seem as sharp as he could be."

Yasmani Grandal homered to lead off the ninth inning against Fernando Rodney, snapping Miami's string of 21 straight scoreless innings. A.J. Ramos entered with two on and no outs, and he collected the save, his 33rd.

Ramos earns 33rd save

The Marlins made Kershaw work, as the left-hander threw 66 pitches (46 strikes), allowing two runs. He did strike out five, and made Major League history by becoming the first pitcher ever to reach 150 strikeouts in a season with fewer than 10 walks. He has issued nine free passes, with none on Friday. Kershaw is now 11-3 in 2016, with two of his losses to Miami.

"I'm thankful I got to come back," said Kershaw. "The guys who have been with me non-stop, there's a lot of people that did a lot of work, and I'm thankful for that. At the same time, I'm out there to win, to get guys out consistently and I didn't do that tonight."

Yelich's RBI bunt single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jose's record K Day: When Fernandez blew a 98-mph fastball by pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig to close out the seventh inning, it was the right-hander's 14th strikeout of the night. That matches a career high for the 24-year-old, who has achieved the feat five times in his career, including three this season -- June 5 against the Mets and July 18 at Philadelphia. But perhaps the biggest strikeout Fernandez recorded came in the first inning, with two outs and runners on the corners, when he fanned Grandal.

"Good gameplan," Fernandez said. "I think J.T. really had a good gameplan. I studied the hitters the best I could, and the team played great."

Fernandez talks big performance

It worked: Instead of having Josh Fields face Derek Dietrich with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Roberts brought in lefty Luis Avilan, and Mattingly answered with Giancarlo Stanton. Avilan struck out Stanton to end the inning.

Avilan works out of trouble

Power behind the plate: Grandal's home run off Rodney in the ninth inning was his 25th this season, the most for a Dodgers catcher since Paul Lo Duca knocked 25 in 2001.

Grandal's solo home run

Realmuto belts 10th: Realmuto was moved up to second in the order, and the Miami catcher made an immediate impact. His one-out home run off Kershaw in the first inning gave the Marlins the early lead. The drive to left was Realmuto's 10th homer, matching his rookie-season total set in 2015. According to Statcast™, Realmuto's home run was projected at 385 feet with an exit velocity of 100 mph.

Realmuto's solo homer

QUOTABLE
"Again, I think command is a big issue. In Cleveland, it got him in trouble. Tonight, when you don't locate and can't continually get ahead in the count, it seemed like every time he threw a fastball, they were on it. It's another area we'll look at." -- Mattingly, on Rodney's struggles. On Sunday, Rodney blew a two-run lead in the ninth in a loss at Cleveland.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Grandal leads all Major League catchers in home runs.

UMPIRE CHANGE
There was a scary moment in the bottom of the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki was struck by a 95.2-mph Fields fastball. The ball deflected off Ichiro's right shoulder and caught home-plate umpire Brian Knight in the facemask. Dazed, Knight was replaced by second-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller. The delay lasted nine minutes. More >

"It seemed like Brian got hit earlier in the game, too," Mattingly said. "He got hit a little early, and honestly, looked a little dazed that time. That one, they were quick with it. It was the right thing to do."

Home-plate umpire leaves game

WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Rich Hill has made only two starts in five weeks with the Dodgers, but he still hasn't given up a run. In his last start, he allowed only one hit in six innings, and he gets the nod in Saturday's 4:10 p.m. PT game. In his last 10 starts, he's 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA. He last faced the Marlins in 2009.

Marlins: Tom Koehler (9-10, 3.87 ERA) seeks his first victory since Aug. 9, a span of five starts, on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander has thrown pretty well over the past month, posting a 4.03 ERA in those five outings.

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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.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.