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Fernandez's arm leads Marlins past Cardinals

The SportsXchange

MIAMI - When rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez came to bat in the second inning Friday night, he had a few words for St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

"I looked up to that guy," said Fernandez, 20, of Molina, 30. "When I saw (the Cardinals) win the World Series (in 2011), I said: 'I wish one day I could shake his hand.' I was in high school back then.

"When I got to bat (Friday), I said: 'It's a pleasure to be playing against you.' And (Molina) said: 'No, it's my pleasure.'

"It was a special moment, incredible."

There were more special moments to come for Fernandez, who struck out a career-high 10 to lead his Miami Marlins to a 5-4 win over the Cardinals at Marlins Park.

A crowd of 15,403 watched as the Marlins, owners of baseball's worst record (20-46), beat the team with the best mark, the Cardinals (43-24).

Fernandez (4-3) tied his season-high by lasting seven innings. He threw a career-high 107 pitches, 70 of them for strikes, and allowed just three runs, including two earned.

In six home starts this season, Fernandez is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.

Fernandez said he relied completely on whatever pitches catcher Jeff Mathis was calling on Friday.

"I told him: 'I will throw whatever you want,'" Fernandez said. "He is in charge of everything back there."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Fernandez "set the tone" with his pitching.

"After he gave up a couple runs early, his competitiveness came out," Redmond said. "And he has the ability to execute pitches like only a handful of guys I've ever seen."

Things got a little tense for Fernandez in the sixth inning when he gave up a run-scoring double to former University of Miami star Jon Jay, cutting the Marlins' lead to 5-3.

"He left me a pitch up, and I was able to capitalize on it," Jay said. "But he did a good job of keeping the ball down and mixing up the pitches. He can throw 96 (mph) whenever he wants."

After Jay's hit, Fernandez got Pete Kozma to ground out to shortstop to end the sixth. Fernandez then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to end his night on a high note.

Reliever Chad Qualls allowed a run in the eighth on a Matt Holiday single and a two-out, run-scoring double to right by David Freese, cutting the Marlins' lead to 5-4.

Mike Dunn got the final out of the eighth, striking out Jay on a 3-2 fastball, and closer Steve Cishek pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, earning his eighth save in 10 tries.

The loss went to Cards starter Jake Westbrook (2-2), who started the night with a 1.62 ERA. But Westbrook, who was making his first start since missing 33 games due to right-elbow inflammation, allowed eight hits, one walk and five runs, three of them earned.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said a second-inning error cost Westbrook. But, other than that, he was fairly pleased.

"He got a lot of ground balls, which is what we want, but those balls were making their way through (the infield)," Matheny said. "He wasn't as sharp as he normally is, but he's coming back from an injury."

The Marlins scored twice in the second on five straight ground balls. Mathis had an RBI groundout and Fernandez produced a run-scoring single. It was the third RBI of the season for each of them.

The Marlins took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Adeiny Hechavarria, who reached on a fielder's choice after a Derek Dietrich single, scored on a Greg Dobbs opposite-field double to left. Hechavarria was running on the pitch.

After Juan Pierre doubled and Ed Lucas was hit by a pitch, Giancarlo Stanton belted a two-run double that hit the base of the wall in left center, giving Miami a 5-2 lead.

Stanton finished 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles in just his fourth game back from the disabled list.

The Cardinals scored two first-inning runs on RBI singles by Allen Craig and Molina.

The inning was set up by a couple of tricky ground balls. Matt Carpenter led off with a single to right that hit off the glove of Dobbs at first base. With one out, Holiday's grounder to third took a bad bounce off Lucas that was ruled an error.

NOTES: The Cardinals' Carlos Beltran singled in the fifth, extending his hit streak to 13 games. ... Marlins 1B Logan Morrison sat out his second straight game because of a back problem. ... Pierre got an infield single in his first at-bat, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. It is the 20th double-digit hitting streak of Pierre's career. ... When the Cardinals scored twice in the first inning, it marked the third time in four games that the Marlins had allowed multiple runs in the opening inning of a game. The Brewers scored a total of five first-inning runs in the Marlins' previous three-game series. ... The Cardinals are unbeaten in their past 14 series (11-0-3). ... Since June 1 and entering Friday, the Marlins' bullpen put together a 2.98 ERA, fourth best in the NL. During that span, the pen has four wins, tied for the National League lead with Arizona and Colorado.
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