MIAMI (AP) – Cincinnati Reds rookie Michael Lorenzen was braced for a pitching duel against Jose Fernandez, which is what happened.
Lorenzen gave up two runs, and that was too many.
Fernandez pitched seven innings and tied the modern record for most consecutive home victories by a starter to begin a career, helping the Miami Marlins beat the Reds 2-0 Thursday.
Lorenzen (3-4) went six innings in his fourth consecutive solid start.
“I wasn’t able to out-pitch Fernandez,” he said. “That was my goal. You get an opportunity to go up against a guy like him, you want to do your best and show you can compete at the highest level. I wasn’t able to come out on top.”
Fernandez won for the second time in two outings since his return from Tommy John surgery. He allowed six hits, struck out nine and improved to 14-0 in 22 career starts at Marlins Park.
The only other pitcher since 1914 to win his first 14 home decisions as a starter was Johnny Allen of the Yankees in 1932-33, according to STATS. Fernandez lowered his ERA at home to 1.17.
All-Star Dee Gordon stole three bases, scored both runs and broke the Marlins record for hits before the All-Star break with 119. Miami snapped a four-game losing streak.
Lorenzen, whose outing was delayed a day when the Reds were rained out Wednesday at Washington, allowed five hits and four walks.
“There are lessons to be learned,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “When you don’t have your best command, you can still compete, which he did today. When Michael gets to where he’s commanding the zone better, he’s going to be a force as well.”
Fernandez faced his biggest jam when he allowed singles by Marlon Byrd and Eugenio Suarez on consecutive pitches in the seventh. Tucker Barnhart then grounded into a double play, ending the inning and Fernandez’s night.
“We’ve seen him before, and we know he’s good,” Price said. “He didn’t make any fatal mistakes by walking people, falling behind or giving up the big hit that could have done the damage and gotten us back in the game.”
Fernandez, who threw 94 pitches, was still reaching 96 mph in the seventh and mixed in lots of off-speed stuff. He walked none and has yet to walk a batter in 13 innings this season – all at home.
“He loves Miami, that’s all I can say,” manager Dan Jennings said. ‘There’s a little bit of an aura when he pitches at home.”
Fernandez struck out Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez twice each.
“He’s Fernandez – that’s all you need to know,” said Billy Hamilton, who had an infield single off the Marlins ace. “He’s a great pitcher. With this guy, you don’t know what you’re going to get. He can throw any of his pitches at any time during the count. You have to be ready for anything.”
A.J. Ramos pitched around a leadoff double by Votto in the ninth to earn his 14th save in 17 chances. All-Star Todd Frazier flied out to the warning track and kicked the turf in disgust. Bruce then struck out, and Byrd popped out.
Gordon singled in the first, stole second and third and came home on a two-out, 415-foot double by Justin Bour. Lorenzen settled down after that, although he retired the side only once.
“That comes from damage control and not getting fazed with runners on,” Lorenzen said. “I’m an attack-type pitcher, and I know I’m one pitch away from getting a double play all the time or getting weak contact. I just have to stay even keel and trust my stuff.”
The Marlins totaled five hits and won despite going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
RHP David Phelps (4-4, 4.03), back in the Marlins’ rotation after a brief bullpen stint, is scheduled to start Friday against RHP Mike Leake (5-5, 4.39).