MIAMI (AP) — Lance McCullers paid tribute to the late Jose Fernandez and pitched like him, allowing no earned runs for the third start in a row, and the Houston Astros beat the Miami Marlins 3-0 Wednesday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.
McCullers (4-1) wore cleats with Fernandez’s initials and uniform number. Their friendship began when they were high school pitchers in the Tampa area, before Fernandez became the Marlins’ ace and then died in a boating accident last September.
McCullers limited Miami to three hits in six innings and lowered his ERA to 2.65. He has allowed no earned runs in his past 20 1/3 innings.
Jose Altuve hit his first two triples of the year, doubled twice and had an RBI. George Springer hit a two-out, two-run single in the sixth.
The Astros (29-12) passed the quarter mark in their season with the best record in the majors. Their fourth consecutive win lifted them 17 games above .500 for the first time since 2004.
The Marlins leave town last in the NL East after going 1-8 on their homestand. They were outscored 22-4 in the series.
Jose Urena (1-2), one of the few bright spots in Miami’s battered rotation, lost despite limiting Houston to three runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings. He has an ERA of 1.91 in three starts this year.
A sloppy error by Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon led to two unearned runs. He made an errant backhanded throw to second with two out in the sixth, and Springer followed with a single for a 3-0 lead.
Houston scored in the first on doubles by Stringer and Altuve.
Three Astros relievers completed a three-hitter. Ken Giles pitched around a walk in the ninth for his 11th save.
Miami loaded the bases in the first on two hit batters and a walk, but Derek Dietrich grounded out to end the threat.
The Marlins went 10 2/3 innings without a hit over two games until J.T. Riddle singled leading off the fifth. McCullers retired the next three batters.
Before the game, the Marlins placed RHP Junichi Tazawa on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to May 16 with rib cartilage inflammation, and designated Mike Aviles for assignment. They added INF Christian Colon to the roster after claiming him off waivers from Kansas City, and recalled RHPs Brian Ellington and Odrisamer Despaigne from Triple-A New Orleans.
Houston: Following a day off, RHP Charlie Morton (5-2, 3.97) is scheduled to start Friday for the Astros when they return home to open a three-game series against Cleveland.
Miami: RHP Edinson Volquez (0-5, 4.41) is scheduled to start for the Marlins when they begin a four-game series Thursday at the Dodgers. Miami swept a four-game series there last year.
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