MIAMI — Rocked in his first start since 2012, Miami Marlins left-hander Randy Wolf is optimistic he can do better — if he gets another chance.
Wolf was hit early and often Sunday in a 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He allowed nine hits and six runs, four earned, in five innings.
The Marlins had hoped 37-year-old left-hander could settle into the starting job that became vacant when ace Jose Fernandez was sidelined earlier this month by a season-ending elbow injury.
"We had talked about how Jose’s spot was going to be tough to fill," manager Mike Redmond said. "We’ll just have to see where it goes from here."
Wolf (0-1) gave up four consecutive hits in the first inning and trailed 5-0 by the second. He didn’t pitch in 2013 and is trying to come back from the second Tommy John surgery of his career.
"This is not the first time I’ve had a bad game," Wolf said. "Especially early on, everything was up, and a few times I painted myself into a corner with the counts I was in. The only thing I can take out of this game is that things got better as the game went on."
NL Central leader Milwaukee won two of three games in the series and improved to 18-6 against the Marlins since the start of 2011.
"This is a good team that we just played," Redmond said. "They outslugged us, and that ended up being the difference."
Miami fell to 20-8 at Marlins Park, still the best home record in the majors. The Brewers went 4-6 on their longest trip of the season.
Brewers rookie Jimmy Nelson earned his first career victory in his season debut, pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a spot start. The Brewers gave Nelson a game ball and sent him back to Triple-A Nashville, which was the plan even before the game.
"He was really impressive — dominant stuff," teammate Ryan Braun said. "A guy who’s that good, you know you’ll see him again soon."
Rated the Brewers’ top prospect, Nelson was recalled to start for Yovani Gallardo, who is nursing a sore left ankle. The 6-foot-5 right-hander allowed five hits and three walks, but Miami went 0 for 7 against him with runners in scoring position.
"He’s got really good stuff," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He let a lot of balls get away from him, but he made some great pitches when he needed to and threw some great sliders. With him it’s just going to be a matter of trying to command the ball, and not let so many balls get up and away from him."
Braun had four hits, including a double and a triple. The Brewers’ slugger, who has been nursing a sore right side, came into the game 5 for 27 on their trip.
Jonathan Lucroy had two doubles and a triple to hike his average to .331. Khris Davis doubled twice for the Brewers, who totaled 14 hits, seven for extra bases.
Marcell Ozuna broke up the shutout by hitting his ninth homer in the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez.
Nelson hit 94 mph on the radar gun and was at his best pitching from the stretch. He loaded the bases in the fifth but escaped by retiring Derek Dietrich and Giancarlo Stanton.
"I think it was a classic case of being effectively wild," the Marlins’ Casey McGehee said. "It was kind of a weird outing. He was giving the appearance that he was all over the place, but then when he was in the zone he wasn’t in the fat part of the plate. His stuff was certainly there. There’s a lot to like about the kid."
Nelson twice struck out Stanton, the major-league RBI leader.
NOTES: The Marlins had two infield hits to increase their season total to 59, most in the majors. … When Josh Beckett pitched a no-hitter Sunday for the Dodgers, Redmond sent a congratulatory text to his former Marlins battery mate. "I said to him, ‘At least you had a good catcher today,’" Redmond said. … Miami will begin a three-game series Monday at Washington, with RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-2, 3.41) scheduled to start against RHP Tanner Roark (3-2, 3.42). … The Brewers return home to begin a three-game series Monday against Baltimore, with RHP Kyle Lohse (6-1, 2.67) scheduled to face RHP Chris Tillman (4-2, 4.21).