Alan Diaz
July 08, 2016

MIAMI (AP) Jose Fernandez looked more like himself Friday night.

Fernandez bounced back from allowing a career-high nine runs, six earned, in a loss at Atlanta to pitch seven innings allowing just an unearned run to help the Miami Marlins to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds to begin the final series before the All-Star break.

''Obviously there was a lot of things to work on from last start and a lot of adjustments to be made,'' Fernandez said. ''I think we made a couple, but there's still a lot of work to be done.''

Fernandez (11-4) struck out eight and did not walk a batter while allowing six hits, lowering his first-half ERA to 2.52. The Reds scored the unearned run with two errors committed by Marlins' outfielders.

''It's a different element when you can strike people out,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''When he needed a strikeout he was able to go get it. He has a different gear when he needs an out. That's what makes great pitchers special.''

Christian Yelich homered and drove in two runs and Derek Dietrich also knocked in a run for the Marlins, who returned home after a 3-6 road trip.

Miami's All-Star relievers both pitched one inning, Fernando Rodney in the eighth and A.J.Ramos in the ninth for his 26th save in 27 chances.

The game took only 2 hours and 16 minutes.

''That's pretty good,'' Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ''That will help our pace of play report when it comes out.''

The win assured the Marlins (45-41) of a winning record in the first half for the first time since 2009 when they went 46-44 before the break.

''I know everybody is excited, but we're four games over and four games over is not going to get it done,'' Mattingly said. ''We've got a ways to go. We're getting better. We're capable of more. We've got a lot of talent here and this second half should be fun. If we play the type of baseball we're capable of, we've got a chance to do something special.''

Dan Straily (4-6) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for the Reds.

''I thought I pitched well but not good enough,'' Straily said. ''Certain nights you have to go out there and win a ballgame 1-0. I wasn't able to get that done tonight.''

Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips left the game after being hit by a pitch on the left hand in the seventh inning. X-rays revealed a hairline fracture.

''It wasn't good enough to stay in the game,'' Price said. ''It was real sore. We'll have to see where he is tomorrow with a lot of ice and time to sleep and get the swelling down.''

Yelich's RBI double in the first gave the Marlins the lead.

''To me Yelly is one of the best hitters in the game and he's starting to show it more and we still feel there's room for improvement with him,'' Mattingly said.

Adam Duvall's single tied the game in the top of the fourth before Dietrich's base hit put the Marlins ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning.

Yelich hit a solo homer in the sixth for a 3-1 lead. It was his seventh of the season after hitting seven in 126 games last season.

''There's room for improvement I think for myself and as a team we've played well in the first half, but we've let a few get away,'' Yelich said. ''It's important to finish up this last series strong and take that momentum into the second half.''

MARLINS DROP FIFTH STARTER

Miami optioned starting pitcher Justin Nicolino to Triple-A New Orleans on Friday and recalled catcher Tomas Telis with the plan of going with a four-man rotation until a fifth starter would be needed on July 19, at Philadelphia.

Nicolino, who is 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA in 12 starts this season, might not get the nod against the Phillies.

''We're looking for the best alternative,'' Mattingly said. ''We're not committed to Nico getting the next start. We don't have to make that decision right now.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: CF Billy Hamilton (right knee) made a leaping catch up against the wall in center field in the fifth inning, but stayed in the game and had ice on his knee after the game. ''It's fine and everything should be good,'' Hamilton said. ... RHP Homer Bailey (right elbow) made his third rehab start on Thursday and will make at least two more before returning to the big league club. ''It sounds like he felt pretty good, threw the ball over the plate, gave up a few hits and a couple of runs, but that's a distant second to how he felt,'' Price said. ''It sounds like things are getting better.''

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP John Lamb (1-5, 5.43 ERA) will start Saturday's game against the Marlins after allowing eight runs over 4 1-3 innings in his last start at Washington.

Marlins: LHP Adam Conley (5-5, 3.65) will take the mound looking to continue his positive stretch, which includes a 2-1 mark and 2.25 ERA over his past four starts.

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