Marlins’ Volstad pitches into ninth, beats Dodgers
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Chris Volstad was one out away from a complete-game shutout in his first major league start. He didn’t get it, because All-Star Russell Martin singled up the middle just past the outstretched glove of shortstop Hanley Ramirez to drive in a run.
Volstad wasn’t complaining after Kevin Gregg finished the Florida Marlins’ 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. He even had a 3-0 lead before he took the mound, thanks to home runs by Jeremy Hermida and Jorge Cantu.
“I don’t want to get greedy, but I really would have liked to have that shutout,” Volstad said with a laugh. “I thought I had it. I thought that groundball was right at Hanley, but he was shading over in the hole. But obviously I’ll take the win in my first start.”
Volstad took a three-hitter into the ninth before giving up a leadoff single by pinch-hitter Delwyn Young, who advanced on Andre Ethier’s one-out grounder and scored on Martin’s hit. Gregg got the last out for his 19th save in 25 chances, getting Jeff Kent to fly out to the warning track in right field.
“We’ve got too much respect for Jeff Kent, and we weren’t going to let him beat the young kid,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s a Hall of Famer over there. Volstad did his job, so that was good enough.”
Volstad (2-0) became the sixth pitcher since 1971 to get a victory as a starter and as a reliever in his first two big league appearances, joining teammate Doug Waechter, who did it with Tampa Bay in 2003. The 21-year-old right-hander was inserted into the rotation after former Dodger Mark Henderson was demoted to the bullpen with a 6.24 ERA in 19 starts.
“Volstad got a chance, but he’s always been on our radar and he stayed with us in spring training almost all the way to the end,” Gonzalez said. “He’s got great composure and great makeup. Our concern was to get him some starts in Double-A and get him ready to come up here. Tonight he pounded the strike zone and made quality pitches. You can’t ask any more from a young kid coming into Dodger Stadium. I hope we can see more of that from him.”
Volstad threw two innings of scoreless relief at Colorado last Sunday, the day the Marlins promoted him from their Carolina farm club.
“That two-inning stint I had in Colorado was big,” he said. “Throughout the day today, I was just trying to stay relaxed and take it easy. I knew I had some extra time because of the 7:40 start, so I slept in. Then I went in and got some food with a friend, hung out in the hotel and tried not to think about it too much. But, coming to the park, I was definitely anxious and thinking about it.”
Volstad induced 13 groundball outs, including an inning-ending double-play ball in the seventh inning by Andruw Jones, who singled with two out in the fourth and was thrown out trying to steal.
The Marlins scored all of their runs against Eric Stults (2-2) after just 12 pitches by the left-hander. Ramirez, who capped his first career five-hit game on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium with a home run in the 11th inning, was hit on the left arm by Stults’ third pitch and stole second on his next delivery.
Hermida then homered to right-center on a 2-0 count for his 10th of the season. Cantu followed with his 17th homer, a drive into the left-field pavilion on a 1-2 offering. It was the sixth set of back-to-back homers for the Marlins, who extended their consecutive-game home run streak to 13 games and broke the previous club record that was set last year.
Stults allowed six hits and struck out six in six innings. The two homers increased Florida’s major league-leading total to 134. The Marlins hit a franchise-record 201 last year.
“I just left two fastballs out over the plate and they just did a good job of driving them,” Stults said. “They’re a good hitting team with a lot of young talent, and they’re leading the league in home runs. So if you make mistakes, they’re going to take advantage of them.”
Ramirez is the only batter Stults has plunked in 30 1-3 innings over his five starts this year, and just the second in 86 2-3 career innings. He pitched 595 innings during his minor league career and hit only 11 batters.
“He wasn’t crowding the plate, but I was ahead in the count, so I was trying not to go in the a strike and maybe brush him back a little bit,” Stults said. “It obviously got in a little too far.”
Organist Nancy Bea Hefley stepped aside for a moment during the seventh-inning stretch to allow 95-year-old Bob Mitchell—the team’s first organist at Dodger Stadium back in 1962—to perform “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” … Cody Ross’ fourth-inning single extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games, the longest of the season by a Marlins player. … Dodgers manager Joe Torre will rearrange his rotation coming out of the All-Star break. They’ll open with Hiroki Kuroda, followed by Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Chan Ho Park and Stults. … Volstad singled just over the head of second baseman Kent in the fourth inning for his first hit in the majors.