ST PETERSBURG (AP) — Not even a tough homecoming could spoil a strong comeback for Jose Fernandez.
Jake Odorizzi allowed one unearned run over seven innings as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Fernandez and the Miami Marlins 4-1 on Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Fernandez (6-1) gave up two runs, 11 hits and had nine strikeouts over six innings in his 11th start after returning from elbow ligament replacement surgery.
“He definitely met expectations,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. “The fact he bounced back from Tommy John, finished strong, finished healthy. Jose is a special guy.”
A 2011 graduate of Alonso High School in nearby Tampa, Fernandez allowed seven runs in 3 1-3 innings during his only other start at Tropicana Field on May 27, 2013.
“Tampa doesn’t like me, I think,” Fernandez said with a smile. “It’s just part of the game.”
Odorizzi (9-9) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out seven.
“It’s a good way to go out,” he said.
The Rays said it was the first regular-season game ever between AL and NL teams during October. There have been 617 World Series games played in the month. Houston and Arizona will start a three-game interleague series Friday night.
The announced crowd was 9,657. All three games of the series had attendance under 10,000, giving the Rays nine such games at home this season.
Evan Longoria homered and had two RBIs for the Rays. He hit a solo homer in the first and had an RBI double during a two-run seventh that made it 4-1. Brad Boxberger pitched the ninth for his 41st save.
After Grady Sizemore made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the third, Fernandez avoided further damage by getting a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play from James Loney.
Fernandez got inning-ending strikeouts with two on in the second, fourth and fifth innings.
“He made pitches,” Jennings said. “Gave us a chance.”
Miami got within 2-1 on Ichiro Suzuki’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fifth. Suzuki tied Barry Bonds for 34th place with his 2,935th hit, a two-out liner in the seventh that center fielder Kevin Kiermaier threw out J.T. Realmuto as he tried to score from second.
“He’s been a treat to be around,” Jennings said of Suzuki.
Marcell Ozuna got the Marlins’ first hit leading off the fifth with a line single to right. He has at least one hit in all 13 of his games against Tampa Bay.
The Marlins went 0-10 in road games against the AL this season.
Marlins 2B Dee Gordon is a finalist for Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, named in honor of the player union’s first executive director and given annually to the player who inspires others through his on-field performance and contribution to his community. The other finalists are Baltimore OF Adam Jones and Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson.
Rays manager Kevin Cash had offseason workouts at Alonso during the final couple years of his playing career and got the chance to see Fernandez throw while the right-hander attended the school.
“I saw him pitch, and he was big-league ready when he was a senior,” Cash said.
Marlins: LHP Justin Nicolino (4-4) will start Friday night’s opener of a season-ending three-game series at Philadelphia.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (11-6) will face LHP Mark Buehrle (14-7) and AL East champion Toronto on Friday night to begin a three-game regular season-ending series.
“They got pop, they’ve got everything,” Ramirez said.
Buehrle is 8 2-3 innings from reaching 200 for the 15th consecutive season.
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