Tom Koehler’s command wasn’t at its best on Sunday.
No harm done, though.
Despite allowing a career-high six walks — the last one an intentional pass — Koehler worked six shutout innings and Marcell Ozuna gave him all the run support he needed with a three-run home run to lift the Marlins to a 3-0 victory over the Rockies.
“Today was a grind from the beginning,” said Koehler (6-6, 3.92 ERA), who has won four of his past five decisions and has gone at least six innings in every start during that span. “Not the best I’ve thrown the baseball, but I was able to make some big pitches when I needed to.”
The Marlins (37-32) are now five games above .500 for the first time this season. Couple the win with another Mets loss to the Braves and the Marlins are now second in the National League East and hold the top NL wild-card spot.
One day after the Marlins had to dip into their bullpen early, Koehler managed to go deep enough for the Marlins, giving up just two hits and striking out six in the process. He struck out the leadoff batter in each of the first four innings and did not allow a leadoff batter to reach base in his six innings.
Koehler also matched his strikeouts and walks tit-for-tat.
After allowing just one walk in each of his previous three starts, the 6-3 righty walked three before getting out of the second inning. His career-high sixth walk came with two outs in the sixth on an intentional pass to Daniel Descalso.
After allowing his first walk of the game in the first, Koehler forced Nolan Arenado to hit into a double play, with first baseman Chris Johnson stretching to make the inning-ending grab before a quick tumble.
With two outs and runners on first and third in the top of the third, Koehler struck out Carlos Gonzalez with an 80-mile-per-hour curveball.
And after giving up a one-out double to Gonzalez in the sixth, Koehler induced a popup and then struck out Brandon Barnes to cap off his first shutout performance this season.
“He’s a guy for me who’s effectively wild,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
“You’re never quite sure what you’re getting or where it’s going to be. … He was getting big outs.”
Relievers Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and A.J Ramos did the rest of the work on the mound, combining for three perfect innings to close the door and give the Marlins their fourth shutout of the season.
Ramos worked a clean ninth to convert his 31st consecutive save opportunity dating to last season. He is two shy of tying Steve Cishek’s franchise record.
Ramos’ 22 saves this year are tied with Mets closer Jeurys Familia for the most in the majors.
In the first three games of this 10-game homestand, the Marlins’ bullpen has given up just one hit and struck out 13 in 13 shutout innings.
“Those guys, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get … but we thought [Sunday] we were going to go for this while they were all still available,” Mattingly said of his bullpen.
After Koehler retreated to the dugout with the game still scoreless, Ozuna did his part at the plate.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and runners on first and second, the Marlins’ cleanup hitter took a 2-0 pitch from Rockies righty Miguel Castro and drove it 421 feet to left-center field for his 13th home run of the season.
After going just 2 for 27 in his previous nine games at Marlins Park, Ozuna had three of the Marlins’ eight hits on Sunday.
“With two outs, you’ve got to go get a run or hit a home run or put the ball in play,” Ozuna said.
“And a 2-0 [count], I just looked for the right pitch and hit it hard.”