Saturday, for the second consecutive game this series, St. Louis came out swinging on Marlins pitching like rumbling Baseball Furies.
The difference between Friday night’s Marlins win and Saturday afternoon’s 13-7 loss, at least from the Marlins’ side: young, promising Jose Fernandez worked through the early battering Friday night to allow only one more run and get the win. Tom Koehler never completely got off the deck before leaving in the fifth inning.
St. Louis pounded Koehler with five runs on four hits in the first; solo shots by Carlos Beltran and David Freese to open the second and third; then loaded the bases in the fifth before Koehler got pulled. A Lance Lynn two-out single off reliever Ryan Webb brought in two runs, making Koehler responsible for nine runs.
Lynn was the Cardinals starting pitcher. That’s how well St. Louis hit Saturday. Three Cardinals — Beltran, Freese, Daniel Descalso — had three-hit games. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina picked up two hits each. The Marlins just couldn’t keep pace with that production.
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They tried. Five Marlins — Juan Pierre, Ed Lucas, Giancarlo Stanton, Adeiny Hechavarria and Rob Brantly — had two-hit games. Brantly had three RBI. Pierre’s leadoff triple extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Stanton is 5 for 8 in this series and has a five-game hitting streak.
“Stanton’s as good as I’ve seen him all year,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He’s going to the plate with a lot of confidence. That’s fun to watch.”
Pierre’s triple also ignited a four-run first inning off Lynn, who came in 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Each team sent its full lineup to the plate in the first inning, a first in Marlins history.
In the second, a two-run home run by Stanton tied the score 6-6. Well, until, Freese’s homer in the third to a few seats away just beyond the 392 mark on the right-center field wall.
“That’s the most disappointing part,” Koehler said. “The team fought back. We tied the game up, had a chance to take the lead and the Cardinals did a great job of adding on runs.”
Redmond said, “You really watched two starters out there have a tough time. It makes it tough on our bullpen, especially when you get only 42/3 [innings] out of the starters. It’s tough to hold those guys down. Pretty good lineup.”
Redmond’s desire to get as much as he could from Koehler as well as a bench shortened by Logan Morrison’s back problems kept him from pinch-hitting for Koehler in the first and third innings with two out. Both times, the Marlins had a runner at second. Koehler struck out both times.
“It makes it tough if your starter only goes two innings,” Redmond said. “That wipes you out for days. We just didn’t have the manpower to pull him out in the second inning.”
The Cardinals knocked in four runs post-Koehler, including Beltran’s second home run of the day, this one batting right-handed. But this game got decided early, when St. Louis exceeded the Marlins’ nine-inning run total by the fifth.
Koehler is now 0-5 with a 5.09 ERA.
“The key for him is to pound the strike zone,” Redmond said. “His first few starts, he was pretty good at throwing strikes, staying aggressive. The last few he’s gotten behind some hitters.”
Saturday, he got behind hitters and the lineup. The Cardinals led off the first four innings with a walk, a home run, a home run and a single.
“I can’t say it was a control thing because I walked one guy,” Koehler said. “The strikes I did throw, they did a good job of executing on bad pitches. There were some good pitches they hit, too.”