Elieser Hernandez walked off the mound at Busch Stadium on Monday night after the sixth inning with a second consecutive impressive performance against the St. Louis Cardinals in six days.
But one bad pitch from Hernandez (and another from reliever Austin Brice later on), one miscue from the defense and no run support spoiled the night.
Final score: Cardinals 5, Miami Marlins 0.
It’s the Marlins’ 13th shutout loss of the season and third in the last nine games.
Hernandez recorded the first quality start of his MLB career despite taking the loss. His final line in St. Louis: a career-high six innings with two runs allowed (one earned) on five hits. He struck out five and did not give up a walk. Of his career-high 101 pitches, 78 went for strikes.
“He was aggressive, throwing strikes, making some pitches,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “That was good to see.”
In two starts since being called back up to fill in for Caleb Smith (left hip inflammation), Hernandez has held the Cardinals to five runs (four earned) on 10 hits and one walk while striking out 13 over 11 2/3 innings.
“I’ve just been following the same plan,” Hernandez said. “Just trying to have fun and help the team win some games.”
Hernandez’s lone blemish came in the third inning when Matt Carpenter took an 82.6 mph change-up 394 feet to center field for a solo home run.
“It was a little bit higher,” Hernandez said of the home run. “I made a mistake.”
The Cardinals (37-34), who won two of three games at Marlins Park last week, added an insurance run in the fifth. Carpenter reached base with a two-out double with a bunt down the third-base line against the shift. Hernandez then got Paul DeJong to pop up to shallow center field on a 2-2 count that should have ended the inning.
But a lack of communication between center fielder JT Riddle and second baseman Starlin Castro resulted in the ball dropping between the two as the nearly collided. Carpenter scored.
“To me, that’s a center fielder’s ball,” Mattingly said. “He’s got to come get it. He’s got to be aggressive. Starlin’s going to keep going until he hears something. I’m not sure if he heard anything or not. I’m not sure if he did.”
Riddle, who made his ninth career start in center field on Monday, added: “We were both coming in. He was coming back. I just need to be a little louder calling the ball and take charge. ... I’ve played plenty of infield and went back on a fly ball. Just need to take charge. I know when I’m going back as an infielder, I want to be able to hear the outfielder going back. Just need to be a little more vocal and say it louder next time.”
Dexter Fowler hit a three-run home run in the eighth off Brice to close out scoring. Brice inherited two baserunners from Wei-Yin Chen, who gave up back-to-back singles to start the eighth after throwing a perfect seventh inning.
The Marlins (25-45) match the Cardinals’ eight hits but couldn’t string together enough to make a play or scratch a run across the board. Seven of Miami’s eight hits were singles. They went 1 for 10 with runners on base, hit into two double plays and left six on base.
“The games we don’t score are basically when we don’t get that key hit and really get something going,” Mattingly said. “We had guys out there a couple times. ... We had a few chances, but we weren’t really able to get anything going.”