Marlins' rookie Fernandez shuts down Padres

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Rookie Jose Fernandez figured before the game even started that this was going to be a big night -- and he was right.
Fernandez pitched a gem, and the Miami Marlins took advantage of a San Diego Padres error in a 4-0 win Monday night at Marlins Park.
"After I threw my first five pitches in the bullpen, I felt great, and I knew my location was there," said Fernandez (5-4), who allowed just two hits and one walk in eight shutout innings, tying his season high with 10 strikeouts. "I've been working on a lot of little things with my mechanics."
Everything worked out for the highly touted 20-year-old, who lowered his ERA to 2.72. Among players his age or younger, he became just the third pitcher since 1923 to strike out at least 10 and allow two hits and one walk or fewer in a game. The others were Kerry Wood in 1998 and Dwight Gooden in 1984.
Fernandez also outpitched Padres veteran Jason Marquis (9-4), who was solid except for the four unearned runs he allowed in the sixth inning. Marquis lasted 6 1/3 innings.
The Marlins (30-51), who won a combined total of just 14 games in the first two months of the season, continued their run of solid recent play. They were 15-10 in June, the fourth-best record in the majors for the month.
Aside from winning six of their past seven games, the Marlins have also won three straight series. That includes taking three out of four from the Padres (40-43).
In the Marlins' big sixth inning, Padres shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, who had made two dazzling fielding plays earlier in the game, made a crucial mistake. He threw high for an error, allowing leadoff batter Ed Lucas to reach first base.
Lucas advanced to second on a walk to Giancarlo Stanton. After Logan Morrison lined out to left, Marcell Ozuna hit a foul pop that Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal -- leaning over his dugout in an attempt to make a play -- missed by about an inch.
"I couldn't tell how far in the dugout that was," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher. "But I thought to myself, that might be an opportunity and maybe we can make him pay for that."
Given a reprieve, Ozuna looped a run-scoring single just over the head of second baseman Logan Forsythe.
Derek Dietrich was then intentionally walked to load the bases. After a strikeout by Adeiny Hechavarria -- which would have ended the inning if not for the error -- Jeff Mathis stroked a three-run double off the fence in left field.
Mathis' blow came one day after he burned the Padres with a game-winning grand slam in which there was also an intentional walk preceding him.
"Jeff has gotten some big hits for us," Redmond said of Mathis, the backup catcher who has 11 RBIs in his past four games. "But even more important is the stability he brings to the pitching staff. He did a great job with Fernandez. He did a great job with (Nathan) Eovaldi (Sunday). We have to develop our pitching staff. Those are the guys who are going to carry us to where we want to go."
Neither team scored in the first five innings. The Padres' biggest early threat came in the first inning when Carlos Quentin's two-out blast nearly left the park but instead banged off the wall in right field for a double.
The Marlins' best early chance came in the fourth. With one out, Marquis walked two straight batters. But Ciriaco, moving to his right, made a brilliant diving catch on a line drive by Ozuna.
Ciriaco foiled the Marlins again in the fifth. The Marlins started the inning with a line-drive single by Hechavarria, who reached third on a hit-and-run single by Mathis. After Fernandez struck out swinging, Justin Ruggiano hit a slow roller to Ciriaco, who started an inning-ending double play even though he slipped and was virtually on the ground when he threw to second base.
Padres manager Bud Black credited Fernandez with shutting down his team.
"He's got one of the best breaking balls I've seen this year," Black said. "He's got a good arm. He does a lot of things right. And for (age) 20, he's advanced. You can tell why the Marlins like this kid. He's got a lot of talent."
NOTES: Mathis became just the 11th player in Marlins history to get 11 RBIs in four games. ... After Monday's game, Marlins INF Donovan Solano was activated off the disabled list, and 1B Jordan Brown was sent to the minors to make room. While he was hurt, Solano lost his 2B job to Dietrich. ... RHP Henderson Alvarez will come off the disabled list and make his Marlins' debut Thursday in Atlanta. ... Mathis' home run on Sunday was just the fourth game-ending grand slam in Marlins history. The others were by Bobby Bonilla (1997), Dan Uggla (2008) and Stanton (2012). ... Padres' OF Mark Kotsay is the last remaining active player from the Marlins team that won the 1997 World Series. Kotsay was called up from the minors in July of that year and played in 18 games. ... The Padres finished June with a 15-13 record, the identical mark they put up in May. ... Next up for the Marlins is a three-game series at Atlanta. ... Next up for the Padres is a three-game series at Boston. ... Attendance Monday at Marlins Park: 14,669.

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