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MIA@ATL: Fernandez strikes out eight over six frames

ATLANTA -- Not even a record-setting performance by Jose Fernandez could put an end to the Marlins' losing ways.

On a night Fernandez became the franchise rookie strikeout leader, the Marlins were unable to get much going off Braves rookie right-hander Julio Teheran.

Teheran fanned eight in 6 1/3 innings and Freddie Freeman belted a two-run homer that lifted the Braves to a 2-1 win over the Marlins on Friday at Turner Field.

Fernandez was gutsy in six innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out eight. He chipped in with his first career triple -- providing a scare by making a head-first slide. And he scored the Marlins' lone run. Still, it wasn't enough to put the brakes on Miami's losing streak, which reached five games.

"I had to really make some pitches. It was a tough one," Fernandez said. "I learned a lot from it. I get another chance to face them at home, I hope. Let's see how it goes."

Even on a so-called tough night, Fernandez kept a potent Braves lineup in check.

"I thought he had to battle tonight," Miami manager Mike Redmond said of his All-Star right-hander. "He gave up that home run on a changeup in the first inning. We're not used to seeing that. But the Braves have a great lineup. They battled him and made him throw a lot of pitches."

The Marlins have gone nine straight games without scoring more than three runs.

Now with 173 strikeouts, Fernandez broke Scott Olsen's rookie strikeout mark of 166 set in 2006. Establishing a milestone is just another day at the park for Fernandez, who is more concerned with the bottom line of winning.

"I don't know what to say about that," the hard-throwing right-hander said. "I guess it's pretty good. It's whatever, though. It's not going to get me happy. It's just normal. Hopefully we're going to get a win tomorrow and have fun."

A rising pitch count of 97 led to Fernandez exiting after six innings. The rookie finishes August with 49 strikeouts in 39 innings, and with a 1.15 ERA in the month. Only Ricky Nolasco's 51 strikeouts in 2008 are more by a Marlins pitcher for the month of August.

Entering Friday, Fernandez was two shy of setting a franchise rookie strikeout record. The 21-year-old wasted little time putting his name in the team record book, but it came in bittersweet fashion.

In the first inning, Fernandez struck out two, giving him 167. Record aside, the inning was far from a smooth one for the hard-throwing right-hander, who lost for the first time since July 7 at St. Louis. Fernandez struck out Jordan Schafer with a breaking ball to open the inning. Elliot Johnson followed with a double, and Freeman then belted a hanging changeup for a two-run homer to center.

Fernandez got to spend time with Freeman at the All-Star Game, and the two interacted during the game Friday.

In the fourth inning, Freeman doubled to center, prompting Fernandez to holler in his direction: "How can I get you out?"

Fernandez regrouped and struck out Chris Johnson with an 81-mph curveball for his record-setting whiff.

"He reminds me of a guy that is pitching in his backyard," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's having fun. He's competing and he's confident in his pitches. Why not? They're pretty darn good."

Shut out at Washington on Thursday, the Marlins pushed a run across off Teheran in the third inning. Fernandez led off with a triple on a liner to right-center. Showing all-out hustle -- and too much daring for his own good -- the rookie pitcher slid head-first on a close play at third.

Seeing a star pitcher put his throwing shoulder at risk caused concern in the Miami dugout.

"That's the way I play the game," Fernandez said. "I know that's not smart. I've got to learn from that. One play can end my career."

Redmond echoed Fernandez's sentiment.

"You want him to play hard, but at the same time, too, you want him to play smart," Redmond said. "I wouldn't have been disappointed if he had stopped at second. I definitely wouldn't have been disappointed if he slid feet-first, instead of head-first."

Fernandez ended up scoring on Christian Yelich's single to left.

A chance for a big inning faded with the bases loaded when Placido Polanco lined out sharply to center.

The fourth inning didn't produce any runs, but it created high drama for Fernandez, who needed 30 pitches to work out of a bases-loaded jam. Freeman led off with a double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch. With one out, Fernandez engaged in a 14-pitch showdown with Brian McCann, who fouled off nine pitches. Fernandez finally was able to get McCann swinging through an 83-mph curveball.

"First of all, he's my friend," said Fernandez, who also spent time at the All-Star Game with McCann. "It was fun, a 14-pitch at-bat. I'm throwing him every pitch that I have. I was like, 'Hey, what can I throw you?'"

After getting McCann, Fernandez still had to work. Dan Uggla was intentionally walked and B.J. Upton walked, but the threat ended on Andrelton Simmons' ground ball to short.

"McCann, that was a great at-bat," Redmond said. "Jose did a nice job, striking him out in that situation. But it cost him a lot of pitches. That's what good teams do, they find ways to grind guys out and get their pitches up. Everybody knows that he's got limited bullets. I thought he gave us everything he had tonight."

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