ST. LOUIS (AP) - Not long after Jose Fernandez was lost for the season with an elbow injury, the Miami Marlins found a new ace.
They’ve won a franchise-record 10 in a row when Henderson Alvarez takes the ball.
“He’s been really good for us, especially since Jose went down,” cleanup hitter Casey McGehee said Sunday after Alvarez (6-3) worked seven stingy innings and started the key rally with the first of his career-best three hits in an 8-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“He pretty much did today what he’s done all year for us. We love having him out on the mound.”
McGehee extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games with an RBI single in the first. Marcell Ozuna had a two-run single in a three-run sixth that made it 4-0, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s three-run homer off Jason Motte put Miami up 8-1 in the eighth.
The Marlins had lost four of six before taking two of three from their spring training partners. The first two games of the series were decided by one run.
“This group is special,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ve bounced back all year.”
The Marlins easily took the series finale despite stranding 14 runners, largely because of Alvarez. He’s 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA since May 16, allowing two or fewer runs in each of his last nine games.
“I’ve always wanted to be a leader,” the 24-year-old right-hander said through a translator. “I’m just focused on being a pitcher.”
Kolten Wong, just off the 15-day disabled list, had two hits and homered in the seventh for the lone run against Alvarez. Matt Adams had a career-best four hits, including an RBI double.
“All we can do is stick with our approach and go up there and get the barrel on the balls, and that’s what we’re doing,” Adams said. “We’re just hitting it right at people right now.”
Cardinals rookie Marco Gonzalez (0-2) allowed a run in 4 2-3 innings despite giving up seven hits and walking five in his third career start since being recalled from Double-A Springfield. He yielded five runs in each of his first two starts.
“You look at the bottom line, obviously it wasn’t as efficient as he wanted to be and we had to get him out early,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He kept us in there and made good pitches when he had to.”
Alvarez struck out to end the second and then had a hit in three consecutive at-bats, the biggest a leadoff bloop single in the sixth. He topped his previous best of two hits, done twice, and raised his average this season to .250.
Obviously, that’s a bonus.