MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Whenever he seems to be on the mound, the Miami Marlins young pitching ace always brings the noise.READ MORE: BSO Detectives Look For Clues In Suspected Road Rage Shooting On I-75
Jose Fernandez struck out the final batter he faced to end the fifth inning and walked off the mound with a grin, happy to be healthy and still unbeaten at Marlins Park.
Fernandez returned from the disabled list Saturday and became only the third pitcher since 1914 to win his first 16 career decisions at home when the Marlins beat the reeling Washington Nationals 2-0.
Pitching for the first time since he was sidelined by a right biceps strain Aug. 7, Fernandez (5-0) threw five innings, allowed two hits and struck out seven.
Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) also started 16-0 at home, according to STATS.
“It’s just another number,” Fernandez said. “But I’m really happy the team got a win.”
Fernandez already held the major league record for most home starts without a loss to start a career. He lowered his ERA in 25 starts at home to 1.11.
His return brought to Marlins Park a buzz missing for much of the season.
“You can see when Jose pitches, the team is different,” closer A.J. Ramos said. “He brings something to this team that nobody can explain. It’s uplifting. We just follow his lead.”
The Nationals lost their fifth consecutive game as they quickly fade from contention in the NL East. Washington fell 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets after trailing by only four going into Monday.
The team’s mood was further soured by news that right-handed reliever Drew Storen broke his right thumb in a fit of temper following his latest outing Wednesday and will likely miss the rest of the season.
“It’s only human nature to say, ‘This wasn’t our year,'” manager Matt Williams said. “But you have to fight against that, because at any time you’re playing for pride’s sake.”
Ichiro Suzuki had three hits for the Marlins, who won their fourth in a row. They outhit Washington 12-3.
Ramos gave up a leadoff double in the ninth and then struck out the side for his 27th save and fourth in the past four games.READ MORE: Miramar-Based Spirit Airlines Tells Shareholders To Reject Hostile Bid From JetBlue
Fernandez, who returned from Tommy John surgery in July, lowered his ERA in eight starts this year to 2.06. He also singled in his only at-bat to hike his career average to .200.
The right-hander showed in the first inning he had his usual velocity, striking out Bryce Harper looking on a 99 mph fastball.
“When you come back and you’re throwing 99 mph, it’s usually pretty tough,” Harper said.
The Marlins will be cautious with Fernandez’s workload the rest of the season, and he departed for a pinch hitter after throwing 69 pitches.
He fanned Tyler Moore to end the fifth and smiled as he headed for the dugout, well aware his outing was done.
“Walking off the mound healthy is always great,” he said.
Fernandez improved to 3-0 in five career starts against Washington with an ERA of 0.58.
Tanner Roark (4-5), making his eighth start this year, allowed two runs in 4 2-3 innings.
Marlins: RHP Carter Capps (right elbow strain) will throw a bullpen session Sunday and is expected to join the team on its trip beginning Monday. … SS Adeiny Hechavarria (hamstring) is not yet at full speed but will also make the trip.
Nationals: 3B Yunel Escobar (stomach bug) was scratched from the lineup. Washington was again without 1B Ryan Zimmerman (left oblique).
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (11-11, 3.03 ERA) faces the Marlins and Brad Hand (4-5, 5.20) in the series finale Sunday. Scherzer is 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA in his past seven starts.MORE NEWS: Police ID Man Killed In Deadly Hit & Run Near Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
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