CINCINNATI (AP) — The last time before Thursday night that Jose Fernandez pitched in Cincinnati, it was April 18, 2013, his rookie season. He lasted only four innings and allowed five runs.
Miami’s struggling ace again lasted only four innings and allowed five runs, including Ramon Cabrera’s three-run homer that was the big blow in the Marlins’ 5-4 loss to the Reds.
“From there, things got better,” Fernandez said when reminded of that first Cincinnati start. “I hope they get better this time, too.”
Billy Hamilton used aggressive baserunning to produce another run and Eugenio Suarez added an RBI double to give Cincinnati three straight wins over Miami after losing the opener of the four-game series.
Dan Straily (9-6) improved to 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA over his last six starts. He opened with five shutout innings before giving up Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer in the sixth. Straily allowed six hits and struck out seven.
Blake Wood turned in 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth for his second career save in two opportunities.
Fernandez (12-7) allowed five runs in a season-low four innings — as many runs as he gave up in his four June starts — and saw his ERA over his last four starts climb to 6.00. The Reds reached him for seven hits and a walk while sending him to a career-worst third consecutive loss. He previously had never lost more than two consecutive decisions.
“Obviously, (the Reds) were squaring a lot of stuff up,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “I’m not quite sure. I haven’t seen the replay of his pitches yet, but balls kind of at the belt line or in the center of the plate are going to get hit.”
He also failed to adequately back up third when Hamilton tagged up from second on a fly ball to Ozuna in center field. The Reds’ speedster scored when Ozuna’s throw got through third baseman Martin Prado and bounced off the fence in front of the third base dugout.
“You can’t give teams extra chances,” catcher Jeff Mathis said. “We’ve got to play better baseball and limit our mistakes.”
Fernandez finished with six strikeouts, pushing him over 200 for the first time in his career. With 204, he is the sixth Marlin to reach 200 in a season and first since Anibal Sanchez with 202 in 2011.
Cabrera gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead with his first homer of the season in the second inning.
Prado capitalized on an error by pitcher Jumbo Diaz with a two-run single in the seventh.
MOVING UP: Fernandez’s six strikeouts on Thursday leave him with 204 on the season, the third-highest season total in Marlins’ history. He trails Kevin Brown (205, 1997) and record-holder Ryan Dempster (209, 2000).
POWER SURGE: Ozuna’s home run was his 22nd of the season and third of the four-game series. He is one homer short of matching the career high he set in 2014.
ON THE VERGE: Joey Votto needs one double to reach 300 in his career and four RBIs to reach 700.
Marlins: RHP A.J. Ramos is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Friday. If he feels OK on Saturday, Mattingly expects to be able to activate him on Sunday. Ramos, 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA and 32 saves in 47 relief appearances this season, has been out since Aug. 6 with a fracture of the third finger of his right hand.
Reds: Problems with his patella and Achilles tendons related to last year’s knee surgery are plaguing SS Zack Cozart, who didn’t start on Thursday for the third time in the four-game series.
Marlins: RHP Tom Koehler (9-8) tries for his first win in five career starts against the Pirates when Miami opens a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Friday. He is 0-4 with a 5.73 ERA in his career against the Pirates.
Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (1-1) is scheduled to make his first start since May 19 when the Reds open a four-game wraparound series against Los Angeles in Cincinnati. Adleman has been sidelined with a strained left oblique.
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