MIAMI (AP) — Looking to add an experienced starting pitcher in the offseason, the Miami Marlins believed Mat Latos was the answer. However, Latos battled through injuries and inconsistency in his first nine starts before going n the disabled list with left knee inflammation.
Latos (2-4) made his return on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies after three weeks in between starts and struck out a season-high 11 batters in seven innings to help lead the Marlins to a 4-1 win.
“He threw some cutters that they were swinging over by a foot,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. “It’s good to see him at 100 percent because I think you’re truly seeing now the Mat Latos the Marlins traded for and it’s a huge boost for us.”
Latos gave up one run and four hits while making his first start since May 21. He earned his first victory since May 5 at Washington.
“It feels good to have two legs under me that’s for sure,” Latos said.
Latos was helped by Giancarlo Stanton, who homered and drove in four runs.
“That God I’m not pitching against him,” Latos said.
Stanton had a two-run double in the first and a two-run home run, his 23rd, in the sixth to give him 12 RBIs in the last six games.
“Just finally feeling comfortable, not being tense up there, and staying relaxed,” Stanton said.
The Marlins only needed four hits and held the Rockies to five to win their third straight in the series.
“This is one of the worst hitters’ parks in baseball in my opinion,” Rockies catcher Michael McKenry said.
Latos was sharp from the beginning, striking out the first two batters in the first and then striking out the side in the fifth. The 11 strikeouts were the most for Latos since also getting 11 on July 6, 2013, against Seattle while with Cincinnati. It was his 10th career game with at least 10 strikeouts.
“Everything just felt strong, everything was going for me and I was able to make some good pitches, execute some good off-speed pitches, had good movement on my two-seamer today, had good command of both sides of the late with the fastball,” Latos said.
A.J. Ramos pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in 11 chances.
David Hale (2-1) allowed four runs in six innings for the Rockies, who have lost four straight.
“We’re certainly having a difficult time right now,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Stanton made an immediate impact on the game in the first inning. He made a sliding catch in foul territory on a fly ball to right by Troy Tulowitzki to end the top half, and followed with his two-run double high off the left-center field wall for a 2-0 lead.
D.J. LeMahieu led off the sixth with a double, stole third, and scored on a base hit by Tulowitzki, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Miami’s Marcell Ozuna had his 13-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 performance.
Stanton’s two-run homer to left gave the Marlins a 4-1 lead. It was his second four-RBI game of the series and third of the season.
The announced attendance of 26,647 included 389 dogs.
GALARRAGA MAKES APPEARANCE
Former Rockies All-Star and fan favorite Andres Galarraga spoke with players and coaches before the game, including Weiss, a teammate for six seasons.
“One of the best teammates I ever had,” Weiss said. “I actually think I spent more time with him than any other player in my career. Great player, great person, brought a great attitude to the park every day. He was a pleasure to be around for all of those years. What a great person. He smiles 24/7 and he’s like that when he played too.”
POWER ON DISPLAY
Marlins’ 17-year-old first-round draft pick Josh Naylor took part in batting practice and showed his power from the left side smacking five balls into the upper deck in right field.
Rockies: LF Corey Dickerson left the game in the sixth after re-aggravating a left foot injury after grounding out. “I’m not exactly sure how serious it is, but it is a chronic thing,” Weiss said. “Hopefully, it didn’t flare up too much.”
Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez threw five scoreless innings in his second rehab start with Single-A Jupiter on Friday. “Wow, it was pretty good,” Jennings said. Fernandez’s next rehab start will be with either Single-A Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville.
Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa (3-2, 5.53 ERA) will be looking for his franchise-best 73rd career victory in the series finale.
Marlins: RHP Dan Haren (6-2, 3.12) has a career ERA of 5.12 in 19 starts against the Rockies, his third-highest against any club. His nine losses are tied for the most.
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