There’s still no place like home for Wei-Yin Chen.
And the Marlins are now making moves to capitalize on it.
The Marlins’ decision to push Chen’s start a day to pitch at home paid off Monday night as he shut down the St. Louis Cardinals for 5 2/3 scoreless innings and helped Miami end a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 win.
Chen lowered his ERA at Marlins Park this season to 1.94 in 51 innings pitched. During that span of nine starts, Chen has allowed 11 earned runs and 35 hits (three home runs), walked 18 and struck out 43.
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Away from Marlins Park, Chen has a putrid 10.27 ERA in 37 2/3 innings pitched, allowing 43 earned runs on 56 hits (11 home runs) with 18 walks and 23 strikeouts.
“With Wei-Yin he really doesn’t look different home or road,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “When you see his work and his preparation, it’s no different. It’s not like he’s serious here and when he goes on the road he doesn’t take it serious. He’s doing the same stuff. I’ve had guys that are pretty good hitters against righties and lefties and one year he suddenly can’t hit lefties. And from there it grows. We talk about it every time now. It just doesn’t go away, but in reality he has to execute pitches and his next one he’d have to go on the road and do it on the road.”
The Marlins (47-67) generated just enough offense off Cardinals’ starter Luke Weaver to avoid their worst losing skid of this season and survive another ninth-inning scare as closer Kyle Barraclough continued to struggle.
Barraclough, who entered the game having blown three consecutive save opportunities, gave up a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. After striking out Kolten Wong, he walked Matt Carpenter to force in a run.
Mattingly yanked Barraclough at that point for Javy Guerra, who then induced a game-ending double play grounder from Yadier Molina. It was Guerra’s first save since Sept. 27, 2014 with the White Sox against the Royals.
“It was important to be ready and I think overall I was prepared and got the right result,” Guerra said. “It’s nice to get the win and get rolling again.”
Brian Anderson continued his stellar rookie season by driving in Derek Dietrich, who doubled to lead off the game, with a single in the first inning. Anderson has 53 RBI, which leads all rookies.
Starlin Castro padded the lead in the fourth with a 407-foot solo home run to left field.
Had Chen completed the sixth it would have marked his fifth consecutive home start in which he had pitched six innings.
Chen (4-8, 5.48 ERA) issued a one-out walk to Molina and nearly got an inning-ending double play out of Jose Martinez when he grounded into a fielder’s choice. After 91 pitches, Mattingly replaced Chen with Elieser Hernandez.
Former Marlins’ All-Star Marcell Ozuna, who played his first game back in Miami since being traded to the Cardinals last December, singled off Hernandez for one of his three hits. But Hernandez struck out Jedd Gyorko to end the threat. In the eighth, Ozuna’s infield single put runners on first and second with two outs against reliever Drew Steckenrider. But Gyorko flew out to the warning track in center to end the inning.
Chen commanded his four-seam fastball well, throwing the pitch 37 times and drawing three swinging strikes eight called strikes and nine foul balls. This allowed him to mix in his slider effectively, which he threw 33 times.
“I had faced them before and they hit me pretty well so I had to make adjustments,” Chen said. “Throwing off-speed pitches hasn’t been my thing in the past, but tonight it worked well.”
Chen’s next start lines up to be at home again Sunday against the New York Mets.