Tom Koehler and his wife Ashley had been holding out hope she would give birth to the couple’s first child, a girl they plan to name Riley, before the Marlins hit the road Friday to start a nine-game road trip.
All manager Mike Redmond was hoping for was that Riley wouldn’t come calling in the middle of Koehler’s start Wednesday night.
Everyone ended up getting their wish.
Koehler tossed six scoreless innings and got all the help he needed from Casey McGehee, Ed Lucas and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who led the Marlins to their first back-to-back wins since June 10 with a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 20,084 at Marlins Park.
“He was warming up and pitching like she was getting ready to give birth any second,” Saltalamacchia said of Koehler. “The first thing he said to me [after he exited the game] was about the pitching aspect of it. I just told him, ‘Go have a baby. Don’t worry about tonight. You have another start in five days. Go have a baby.’ ‘’
Koehler did. After the game, he immediately bolted for the hospital and the Marlins placed him on the paternity list. Redmond, who had been planning to place Koehler on the paternity list since the team’s off day on Monday, said Ashley Koehler was expected to give birth either late Wednesday night or in the morning Thursday.
“It’s hard to concentrate with such a huge event coming,” Redmond said. “But he did a great job.”
So did his teammates.
McGehee and Lucas — who had the walk-off hit in Tuesday night’s 11-inning win over the Phillies —ach singled, doubled, scored a run and drove a run in to help stake Koehler to an early 3-0 lead.
Saltalamacchia then drilled his eight home run of the season — a two-run bomb to left field off Mario Hollands — adding a pair of key insurance runs in the eighth.
That turned out to be more than enough to help Koehler to his first win June 4, lifting his record to 6-6 on the season. Koehler struck out seven and allowed only three hits and a walk on 91 pitches, dropping his ERA down to 3.48.
“I just tried to go out there, stick to the game plan and throw lots of strikes, have them put the ball in play and go from there,” Koehler said.
The night didn’t start off looking good for Koehler.
He gave up back-to-back singles to Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins to start the game and the Phillies (36-48) had runners on second and third with nobody out after Rollins stole second. But Koehler fought back to strike out Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd and then got Ryan Howard to ground out to second to end the inning.
Koehler retired 15 in a row until giving up a walk to pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and a single to Revere to open the sixth. But once again, Koehler worked himself out of trouble, ending the inning by getting Byrd to fly out to deep right field.
It was the fifth time this season Koehler pitched at least six innings and didn’t give up a run, but the first time he had done it since May 17.
McGehee, meanwhile, became the first Marlins player since 2011 to have at least 100 hits before the All-Star break.
He opened the fourth inning by extending his hitting streak to nine games before scoring on Donovan Solano’s bases-loaded single to right. After Lucas doubled home Christian Yelich to open the fifth, McGehee crushed a Cole Hamels pitch off the base of the wall in left field for a double, producing 49th RBI of the season.
Although he doesn’t rank among the top five vote getters in the National League at his position, McGehee entered the night leading all third basemen in the senior circuit in batting average, hits, RBI, on-base percentage and fielding percentage. He’s also now reached base safely in 26 consecutive games.
“I’d love to have both [Giancarlo] Stanton and Casey McGehee in that All-Star Game,” Redmond said. “Look at what he’s been able to do -- big hit after big hit. He’s an all star on our team.”
Starting for Single A Jupiter, Penny, 36, gave up seven hits and four earned runs with two strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings. Penny, who ranks fifth on the Marlins’ all-time wins list and won two games for them in the 2003 World Series, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012.