It hasn’t been the most enjoyable of road trips for the Marlins. On the journey from San Diego to San Francisco — with a halfway stop in Los Angeles — they lost more games than they won.
More significantly, they lost Jose Fernandez to a season-ending injury.
But no matter the outcome of Sunday’s curtain closer at AT&T Park, they’ll still return home to Miami with a winning record overall.
Tom Koehler and the Marlins made certain of that with a 5-0 victory over Tim Lincecum and the Giants at AT&T Park on Saturday.
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Koehler delivered a gem.
The Marlins received just enough offense, with Giancarlo Stanton powering his 12th homer of the season.
They even made good use of baseball’s new replay rules, winning a interesting challenge when replays showed Brandon Hicks failed to touch first base on his way to second after knocking a ball off the wall. Hicks was called out in what was a pivotal early moment of the game.
“That was unbelievable,” Koehler said. “In my mind, Pat Shine won the game today. That’s why he got the game ball today.”
Shine is the Marlins’ administrative coach in charge of video
But it was Koehler who was most impressive.
Back on the mound for the first time since Monday when he struggled in a loss to the Dodgers, allowing four runs in only 3 2/3 innings, Koehler was back in his May form when he blanked the Giants for seven innings before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
“Truthfully, I just tried to forget the last start,” Koehler said. “I tried not to let the feelings of the unsuccessful start harbor in my mind.”
It marked the third time in his four starts this month that he did not allow a run. He improved to 4-3 with a 2.25 ERA.
He received just enough help from the Marlins’ hitters.
After Lincecum retired the first five batters he faced, including three on strikeouts, he gave up walks to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marcell Ozuna, and it cost him as Adeiny Hechavarria delivered a two-out RBI single.
It remained 1-0 until the sixth when Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones opened the inning with a double and triple, respectively, and Saltalamacchia made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Stanton went deep in the seventh off Giants reliever David Huff.
Koehler allowed only four hits and dodged a big bullet in the second when Shine, sitting inside the Marlins clubhouse and watching video monitors, noticed Hicks not touch first base after he hit a ball off the wall in Had Hicks ended up with a double, the Giants would have had runners at second and third with one out. Instead, after successfully challenging the call, Hicks was ruled out and Koehler retired the next batter to end the inning.
“Pat was on it,” said manager Mike Redmond. “I think we were all kind of watching whether the ball was going to be fair or foul down the right field line. Our video guy, he was all over it. That ended up being a huge play, and a huge momentum turner.”
The Giants loaded the bases in the ninth off Kevin Slowey. But Steve Cishek was brought in to close out the seventh shutout win of the season for Marlins.
The Marlins are now 23-21 — and only 1/2-game behind the National League East leading Atlanta Braves — heading into Sunday’s series-ender. Given how poorly the results have been for them, it could have turned out much worse.
But after losing five of their first six games on the trip, they’ve won three of their past four.