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Hernandez dominates as Rays top Marlins again

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said Roberto Hernandez's spot in the starting rotation was not in jeopardy entering Wednesday night.

Hernandez, 2-5 with a 5.73 ERA starting the night, said he wasn't really worried anyway.

Certainly on Wednesday, Hernandez had few concerns as he dominated the Miami Marlins in a 3-1 win at Marlins Park.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Rays (28-24). The Marlins have lost eight in a row, including three straight to Tampa Bay. And, at 13-40, Miami has the worst record in the majors.

Hernandez allowed just three hits, no walks and one run in 8 2/3 innings.

But after he allowed a two-out single by Placido Polanco in the ninth, closer Fernando Rodney came on to get a one-batter save, his 10th of the season. Rodney got rookie Derek Dietrich to fly out to Matt Joyce on a ball hit fairly deep in the right-field corner.

"I hit it well," Dietrich said. "I can't control the results."

For Hernandez, his sinker was the key.

"I wasn't worried," Hernandez said in Spanish when asked about his starting job. "I won't say I wasn't aware of how I was pitching because this is my job. I was just focused on attacking the hitters."

Hernandez, now 3-5 with a 4.87 ERA, was dominant for most of the game. From the middle of the first inning to the middle of the ninth, he retired 24 of the 25 batters he faced, allowing just an infield single to Marcell Ozuna during that stretch.

The only run allowed by Hernandez came in the bottom of the first, when Marlins leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan turned a single to right-center into a double with sheer hustle. He then gambled again, taking third on a fly out to right. He scored when Joyce's throw from right field got past Evan Longoria at third, with Joyce getting charged with an error.

"(Hernandez) might have gotten a shutout had he backed up on the correct side of third base," Maddon said.

Actually, Hernandez never got over there at all.

"I got confused on that play," Hernandez said. "I was not paying attention to the ball. I was paying attention to the runner. I thought (Longoria) was going to catch it, and it was going to be an out."

Maddon said Hernandez would have had to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth to get the complete game.

But that doesn't mean he wasn't thrilled with Hernandez.

"Roberto was pretty darn good," Maddon said. "He sat at 92 (mph) a lot. That was the magic number for him. He wasn't overthrowing. His ball had good movement.

"In the ninth, his pitch count was pretty good. But it was still nine times out there, and he was sweating pretty good."

Tampa Bay got all the offense it needed in a two-run first inning. Leadoff batter Ben Zobrist singled to left, and Joyce doubled to right to set up the middle of the order. Kelly Johnson hit a run-scoring single to right for the Rays' third straight hit. The Marlins limited the damage by getting Longoria to ground into a double play that scored Joyce.

For the Marlins, the hard-luck loser was rookie Tom Koehler, who went a career-high eight innings and allowed seven hits, one walk and three runs. After allowing two runs in the first, Koehler (0-3) was nearly flawless.

"It's nice," Koehler said of the fact the Marlins allowed him to pitch eight innings. "It shows you they have confidence in me to go out there and face that lineup for the start of the fourth time.

"It's tough to sit here and say I'm happy because I'm not. I'm not happy giving up two runs in the first inning and putting my team in a hole. I'm happy I was able to go eight strong and keep us in the game. At the same time, I'm frustrated in myself, putting us in a hole so early."

The only run Koehler allowed after the first came in the seventh, when James Loney hit a one-out double to right, moved to third on Desmond Jennings' single to center and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Yunel Escobar.

NOTES: After the game, the Rays made a change in their pitching rotation. RHP Alex Colome, 24, will start Thursday against the Marlins. LHP Matt Moore was moved back one day. The reason for the change is that RHP Alex Cobb has an injured finger, which appears likely to sideline him for a few days. ... The Marlins promoted INF Ed Lucas, 31, who spent his first day in the majors after 10 years in the minors. Lucas, a former eighth-round pick of the Royals, went to Dartmouth and was the 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year. He played 925 games in the minors before finally getting his chance. ... To make room on the roster, the Marlins designated INF Nick Green for assignment. ... No team in baseball has scored more runs since April 17 than the Rays. Over that 38-game stretch, Tampa Bay also was second in the majors in batting average and third in on-base percentage. ... Marlins 1B Logan Morrison, who has yet to play in the majors this year as he battles back from a knee injury, is hitting .154 (4-for-26) with three RBIs through seven games on a minor league rehab stint. The Marlins are likely to keep Morrison in the minors until June 8. ... The game between the cross-state rivals drew just 16,671 fans.
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