LOS ANGELES (AP) — Miami manager Mike Redmond had seen enough of Wade LeBlanc in his rotation and wanted a fresh look. So he went with rookie Tom Koehler, who pitched well enough to win had the Marlins given him a modicum of run support.
Koehler threw 79 pitches over five innings in his second big league start and first this season, allowing two runs and seven hits in Miami’s 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday.
The Marlins have lost all seven games LeBlanc has started this year — including two no-decisions. On top of that, the left-hander is 1-7 with a 4.33 ERA against Los Angeles. So this seemed as good an opportunity as any to make a change.
“Wade’s gotten several starts, so I thought it was just time that we tried something different,” Redmond said. “We wanted to give Tom a shot to see what he could do over the course of the season. And he went out there and did what he needed to do. He was aggressive and threw strikes and really kept us in the game. He had command of his off-speed pitches and was throwing 95 (mph), too. So that always helps. For his first start of the season, I thought he did a nice job.”
Koehler (0-1) was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on April 19 and made six relief appearances before getting his chance to start again. The 26-year-old right-hander’s only other start in the majors was in last year’s season finale against the New York Mets, when he gave up three runs, six hits and two homers in five innings.
Koehler faced a Dodgers lineup loaded with left-handed hitters except for Matt Kemp, Scott Van Slyke and Tim Federowicz, who were a combined 4 for 7 against him. During his stint in the bullpen, righties were 1 for 23 against Koehler.
“I don’t feel much different than if I would have been starting consistently. So I guess that’s a good sign, and now I can build off it,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing is keeping the ball down and getting ahead of guys.”
Van Slyke, recalled from Triple-A on Friday, homered against Koehler leading off the second inning.
“That home run was off a guy I’d actually faced a lot the last two to three years (in the minors),” Koehler said. “He kind of sped up his bat with a cutter right there and he did a good job of staying on it. But the first run’s not the one that kills you, so the key there is basically making sure that’s the only one. And that team, with all the veterans they have, if you let them start building momentum, they can put up a crooked number real quick.”
It could have been worse for Koehler, but right fielder Marcell Ozuna turned Kemp’s first-inning fly ball into a double play with a one-hop throw to third to get speedy Carl Crawford after he tagged up.
“We knew he had a good arm,” Crawford said. “But in that situation, you say the guy’s got to make a perfect throw. And that’s what he did.”
The Dodgers, who ended an eight-game slide Saturday night with a 7-1 victory, took two of three in the series.
“With a team like that, you know it’s only a matter of time before they start getting it going,” Marlins left fielder Juan Pierre said. “We were hopeful they would have gotten it going a little bit later. But the last two days they handled us pretty well.”
Dodgers starter Chris Capuano (1-2) allowed a run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Last Monday, in his second start of the season and first off the disabled list, the left-hander gave up six runs in four innings against Arizona and threw a mini-tantrum in the dugout after being taken out.
“I know he had a rough outing before, but he figured it out against us,” Pierre said. “He threw a lot of strikes and mixed up his pitches really well. He had command of all of his pitches and we never put any pressure on him. They gave him some runs early, and he did the rest.”
Capuano started against the Marlins for the first time since last Aug. 12, when he threw eight innings of two-hit ball in a 5-0 win at Miami.
“The last time I remember him being a little more fastball-friendly, to be honest. Today he just kind of off-speeded us to death and did a good job mixing his pitches,” said Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano, who homered off Capuano in the sixth. “We swung at a lot of pitches we shouldn’t have been swinging at, so that shows you that they were pretty good off-speed pitches. But we’ve got to take some of the blame for that, too, because we’ve got to get the ball up on him.”
Marlins reliever Mike Dunn gave up RBI singles to Van Slyke and Crawford, and Andre Ethier’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly the seventh inning. The first two runs were charged to Jon Rauch.
Brandon League allowed a two-run double to Adeiny Hechavarria with two outs in the ninth. The loss was Miami’s 14th by two runs or fewer.
“We’re pitching on pins and needles,” Redmond said. “It’s tough on the bullpen and tough on your offense.”
NOTES: All seven of Ruggiano’s home runs this season have come on the road. … Marlins reserve OF Austin Kearns, who has eight hits in 14 career at-bats against Capuano, was moved from the bereavement list to the restricted list. He will be spending more time with his mother, who had a heart attack on May 5.