ATLANTA (AP) — Mike Redmond usually appreciates the spark Jose Fernandez brings to the Miami Marlins.
The manager found an exception: Watching his enthusiastic young star pitcher slide head-first into third base with a triple.
Fernandez gave up only three hits in another strong start but couldn’t overcome Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer in the first inning, and the Marlins lost to the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday night.
The Marlins have lost five straight since Fernandez threw seven scoreless innings in a win over Colorado on Aug. 24. The Braves have won five in a row.
Fernandez, 21, took his first loss since July 7 but allowed only one hit after Freeman’s homer. Fernandez (10-6) gave up three hits in six innings. The young right-hander also set up Miami’s only run when he led off the third with his first career triple. He scored on Christian Yelich’s single.
The slide gave Redmond a scare only a few feet away in Miami’s dugout on the third-base line.
“You want him to play hard, but at the same time you want him to play smart,” Redmond said. “I wouldn’t have been disappointed if he’d stopped at second. And I definitely wouldn’t have been disappointed if he’d slid feet-first instead of head-first. I hope we don’t ever see that again. But I love the energy.
“He brings a spark to our team when we need him. He’s a special kid.”
Fernandez lost to Julio Teheran, 22, in a matchup of young right-handers. Teheran (11-7) yielded one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings. Each starter had eight strikeouts.
“I’ve got an idea these kids are going to match up a lot in the future,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Before facing Freeman in the first, Fernandez had allowed only two homers in his last 15 starts since June 1 — and none in his first five outings this month. Freeman’s homer off the top of the wall in center field drove in Elliot Johnson, who doubled to right.
The other hit allowed by Fernandez was Freeman’s double in the fourth. After the double, Fernandez smiled and shook his head as he looked at Freeman standing on second base.
“I told Freeman `How can I get you out?’ when he got to second base on that double,” Fernandez said. “And then he starts laughing.”
Fernandez endured a taxing fourth inning before Brian McCann finally struck out in a 14-pitch at-bat and the Braves left the bases loaded. The long at-bat helped limit Fernandez to only six innings.
“McCann, that was a great at-bat,” Redmond said. “Jose did a great job striking him out in that situation. But it cost him a lot of pitches. That’s what good teams do; they find a way to grind guys out.
“I thought he gave us everything he had tonight.”
With closer Craig Kimbrel unavailable after pitching in three straight games, Anthony Varvaro got six outs, including a perfect ninth inning, for his first career save.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons made two strong defensive plays in the sixth. He adjusted to field Justin Ruggiano’s grounder after the ball bounced off third baseman Chris Johnson’s glove and then made a strong throw to first for the out. Simmons dove to his right to snare Placido Polanco’s line drive for the second out.
“If anybody in the major leagues other than Simmons is playing shortstop, we probably lose that game,” Gonzalez said.
Giancarlo Stanton led off the eighth with a single. Ruggiano then hit a fly ball to right field and Stanton was thrown out by Jordan Schafer while trying to advance to second.
NOTES: Fernandez has 173 strikeouts for a Marlins rookie record, passing Scott Olsen’s 166 in 2006. … Redmond said RHP Ryan Webb was fine after getting hit in the back by a batted ball during batting practice Thursday. … The Braves optioned C Evan Gattis to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game to receive regular playing time the next three days. He can be recalled after Gwinnett’s season ends on Monday. … OF Justin Upton was held out with a bruised left wrist after he was hit by a pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday night. … Braves LHP Mike Minor will try for his 14th win when he faces Miami RHP Jacob Turner on Saturday night.