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Marlins phenom Fernandez unfazed by Coors Field

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- In his first appearance at Coors Field on Tuesday night, Miami Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez added to his growing reputation and to the Colorado Rockies' offensive misery.

The 20-year-old All-Star pitched seven innings as the Marlins beat the Rockies 4-2 to win the first two games of the four-game series.

Fernandez (6-5) threw 67 of his 94 pitches for strikes as he lowered his ERA to 2.74 by allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

"He gave us everything he had in a place that sometimes can be really tough to pitch in," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.

Left fielder Christian Yelich made his major-league debut for the Marlins and went 3-for-4 with two RBI. He singled in each of his first three at-bats, sending Redmond happily back in time to May 31, 1998, at County Stadium in Milwaukee when he broke into the major leagues.

"I was 3-for-3 with a home run in my major-league debut," Redmond said, smiling, "and thought about taking him out after his third hit."

Yelich said he had some nerves before the game but simply went back to playing baseball as always and just focused on that. He came up with a runner on second and two out in the third and singled to tie the game 1-1. Adeiny Hechavarria doubled home a run in the fourth, and Yelich followed with his third straight hit, a hard grounder off the glove of drawn-in second baseman DJ LeMahieu that put the Marlins ahead 3-1.

"You can think about it and dream about it all you want," Yelich said, "but going out there and actually living it and being able to be part of something like this, it's pretty special and something I'll never forget."

Steve Cishek, who retired the side in the ninth Monday on eight pitches, all strikes, to seal Miami's 3-1 win, walked Carlos Gonzalez on four pitches to open the ninth Tuesday. Gonzalez stole second base as Cishek was in the process of striking out Troy Tulowitzki.

Gonzalez moved to third on Michael Cuddyer's groundout, but Cishek earned his 19th save in 21 opportunities by getting Todd Helton, who homered in the second, to pop out.

Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin (9-5) was 6-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his previous seven starts. He gave up three runs in seven innings and was hit on the upper left thigh by Hechevarria's line drive in the third.

"I didn't feel that good today," Chacin said. "My ball wasn't moving that much. I really battled, using my slider a lot, mixing my slider and fastball. They gave me the lead, and I couldn't hold it. I don't feel like I did my job."

That lead came with two out in the second when Helton drove Fernandez's 1-0 fastball into the second deck in right field. It was Helton's seventh home run and first in 93 at-bats since June 5.

"I thought I was going to blow him up inside, because he was old," Fernandez said of Helton, who turns 40 on Aug. 20. "I said, 'Maybe I got a shot to blow it by him.' Blow it by him in the second deck. ... He's a great hitter, what can I say?"

With runners on first and third and one out in the fourth, Fernandez struck out Michael Cuddyer on a slider as Tulowitzki stole second. Fernandez then struck out Helton on a curveball.

The Rockies cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth when LeMahieu led off with a triple into the right-field corner and scored on Gonzalez's groundout. But Giancarlo Stanton made it 4-2 in the eighth when he homered off Josh Outman. The homer was Stanton's 11th of the season and seventh in nine career games at Coors Field.

The Rockies were held to five hits and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving them 0-for-13 in such situations in their two losses to the Marlins. The Rockies are last in the league in July in batting (.224), runs scored (53) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.615).

"We were not able to score runs, again," Gonzalez said. "I think Fernandez pitched really well, too, but it's not acceptable. We should be better than that. We should score more runs. I don't think our focus was the same tonight, and the game got away.

"I think everybody here understands the situation and how important these games are. I don't think it's the pressure. I think it's more about concentrating more and trying to do the little things. ... If we take more professional at-bats and try to make something happen, we're going to be able to score more runs. But that's the thing that is hurting right now; that's why we're down in this series 0-2."

NOTES: Helton's home run was the 361st of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for 76th all-time. Lance Berkman, who is on the disabled list with Texas, is 75th with 366 homers. ... The Marlins transferred 1B Casey Kotchman (left oblique strain) and RHP Alex Sanabia (right groin weakness) to the 60-day disabled list, and IF Chris Valaika (fractured left wrist) was recalled from the 60-day disabled list and designated for assignment. ... Marlins manager Redmond said Fernandez would be limited to about 170 innings in his rookie season. He entered the game having pitched 104 2/3 innings. ... Rockies RHP Rafael Betancourt came to the clubhouse for the first time since his appendectomy Friday and said he was still sore. Trainer Keith Dugger told Betancourt not to return until Thursday when he'll begin some light walking on a treadmill and in a pool if the soreness subsides.
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