MIAMI (AP) — Randy Wolf threw a 68 mph curve for a ball, and his next pitch was even slower and wider. They served their purpose, setting up the 88 mph fastball he threw for a called strike three to Yunel Escobar, who stood at the plate hanging his head before beginning the long walk back to the dugout.
Wolf pitched that way for six innings Monday night and earned his first victory since 2012 when the Miami Marlins beat Tampa Bay 3-1, sending the Rays to their seventh consecutive loss.
The 37-year-old Wolf is making a comeback from the second Tommy John surgery of his career.
"I throw the same as I’ve always thrown," Wolf said. "It’s not like I was a flamethrower ever in my career. I’ve always thrown 88 (mph), so it’s not like I have to make a huge adjustment."
Wolf allowed three hits and one run. He struck out seven, walked one and won for the first time since he pitched Baltimore past Tampa Bay on Sept. 13, 2012.
"Randy was great," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "You saw a veteran go out there and control the strike zone and change speeds and mix and match. He was able to throw all his pitches for strikes and keep them off balance."
The Rays came into the game off balance, and fell to 0-7 on their eight-game trip. They’re 12 games below .500 for the first time since 2007, and their record (23-35) is the worst in the American League.
The Rays went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They’ve scored six runs in their past five games.
"I still have a lot of faith in these guys," manager Joe Maddon said. "I’m not wavering on that whatsoever. It’s just the particular moment we’re in right now. We’re going to turn this thing around."
Four Miami relievers completed the six-hitter, and Steve Cishek pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances. The Marlins, coming off a sloppy series against Atlanta, snapped a streak of four consecutive home losses as they started a four-game home-and-home series against their intrastate rivals.
"That felt more like a Marlins game we’re used to watching, getting hits when we need to and the pitching staff doing their part," third baseman Casey McGehee said.
Alex Cobb (1-3) paid dearly for a rocky start. The Marlins scored three times in the first, when their first four batters reached. McGehee hit a two-run single, and a bases-loaded double play scored another run.
McGehee is hitting .426 with runners in scoring position, best in the majors.
Wolf (1-1) didn’t pitch in 2013 and was making his second start of this year. He struck out five of the first eight batters he faced, and after Desmond Jennings doubled home a run in the fifth, Wolf retired the next three hitters.
Wolf was signed as a free agent last month after ace Jose Fernandez was sidelined by a season-ending elbow injury. The left-hander improved his career record to 133-118.
"We brought him in to see how much he has left," Redmond said, "and you saw today that this guy can still pitch."
Wolf said he has enough left to help the Marlins this year.
"It has been a long, crazy road, especially recently," he said. "Having an unknown future and being counted out because of your age, it’s a gratifying feeling to work hard and come back and have a win. But for me it’s not time to sit back and relax. I feel like I have more to do."
NOTES: Escobar (quad) was back in the lineup after missing two starts. … Tampa Bay RF Wil Myers (wrist), who went on the disabled list Sunday, is awaiting further test results but is expected to be sidelined three to six weeks, the team said. … Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow surgery) threw 50 pitches in a simulated game in Port Charlotte and said he felt good. He’ll likely make at least three rehab starts but is on schedule to return before the All-Star break. … Marlins 2B Derek Dietrich was given the night off after a succession of defensive gaffes. … Before the first pitch, the wives of Marlins players beat the Rays wives in a softball game. … Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 2.97 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday for Miami against Chris Archer (3-2, 4.00).