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Rookie Fernandez delivers again for Marlins

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins still didn't score much, but they found a way to take advantage of another strong outing from its promising rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez in a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Phillies on Saturday night at Marlins Park.

With runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Marlins center fielder Chris Coghlan hit a grounder that Phillies second baseman Chase Utley couldn't handle cleanly, allowing Placido Polanco to score the winning run before an announced crowd of 20,037.

The Marlins (2-9) broke a six-game losing skid with the victory and snapped a three-game winning streak by the Phillies (5-6).

"Just another laugher," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "This was exactly what we needed. (Fernandez) executed some great pitches against a tremendous lineup."

Fernandez continued to be one of the few bright spots during his team's slow start. On Saturday, Fernandez delivered on the mound and at the plate.

In his second major-league start, he worked six scoreless innings, giving up two hits (both singles) while striking out five and walking two. Fernandez capped his night by striking out Ryan Howard swinging with a runner on second to end the sixth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Fernandez hit a pitch from Phillies starter Cole Hamels to left field that scored Adeiny Hechavarria for the game's first run. It was Fernandez' first major-league hit and RBI.

"I thought, let me stay back and try to hit the ball up the middle to try to drive in the run," Fernandez said. "The pitch was high and I was able to connect and hit it well."

One of the only things Fernandez struggled with during the game was putting his jacket on to run the bases.

"Good news is that (Fernandez) just got his coat off," Redmond said after the game.

Coghlan started in center field after Justin Ruggiano was scratched from the lineup an hour before the game with tightness in his right groin. The Marlins also played without Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder injury) for the second consecutive game.

Polanco led off the ninth with a walk and Greg Dobbs hit a line drive that bounced high off the glove of Phillies first baseman Kevin Frandsen, allowing Polanco to reach third.

"Chase came charging in and he just bobbled it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That and (Frandsen)'s play are definitely plays we can make."

Fernandez followed up on a five-inning, eight-strikeout, one-run outing in his major-league debut on April 7 against the Mets in New York. He has a chance this season to become the fourth pitcher since 1970 to make the jump from Class A and pitch 100 innings.

"Getting that first strike is always huge," Fernandez said. "That's helped me tremendously. The biggest thing was just keeping the ball down and not trying to hard to get strikeouts."

Hamels worked six innings, allowing three hits and an earned run while striking out five and giving up three walks. He had not given up a hit until Hechavarria roped a two-out triple into the gap in right center. Hechavarria reached third base easily after the ball rolled past right fielder Laynce Nix.

Up to that point, Hamels had only surrendered two walks through 4 2/3 innings while striking out five.

"I'm still really trying to get ahead of hitters early and I made an improvement there, but I still have to get that first-pitch strike," Hamels said. "Obviously, I made strides in the right direction, but I still have a lot of work to do."

The Phillies tied the score at 1 in the top of the seventh on a throwing error by Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano. With runners on first and second and one out, Phillies catcher Erik Kratz hit a potential double-play ball. But after Solano stepped on second to retire Freddy Galvis, Solano's relay throw sailed into the crowd over the Marlins dugout allowing Domonic Brown to score the tying run.

The Phillies loaded the bases, but reliever Mike Dunn struck out Jimmy Rollins to keep the score tied.

"We left some chances, but we just didn't hit the kid," Manuel said of Fernandez. "He put them in a good place. We didn't hit him. That was the bottom line. He held us."

The Marlins have scored two runs or fewer in five consecutive games and have only scored more than three runs in a game once this season.

NOTES: The Marlins got some good news Saturday when an MRI revealed Stanton has a bruised left shoulder and no structural damage. Stanton is being listed as day to day. Stanton has five hits in 30 at-bats with no home runs and 12 strikeouts. ... The Phillies entered Saturday's game tied with the Reds for the major-league lead in RBI by pinch-hitters (6) through the first two weeks of the season. It's a welcome start in that category for the Phillies, who had only 23 pinch-RBI hits last season. ... Reliever David Aardsma signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins on Saturday. Aardsma will report to New Orleans, the team's triple-A affiliate. Aardsma was released by the Yankees on April 4 after posting a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings in eight spring-training appearances. ... Utley and Rollins started their 967th game together as a double-play combination, which is second-most among active players at their positions behind the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano.
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