LOS ANGELES — Jose Fernandez looks at his rookie season with the Marlins as one big learning experience.
On Friday night in the Marlins’ 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Dodgers, the 20-year-old right-hander showed he’s not only learning lessons, but applying them.
Pitching in front of newly hired agent Scott Boras for the first time in the big leagues, Fernandez quickly fell behind 3-0 on his 10th pitch of the game when Adrian Gonzalez took him deep to center in the first inning. But instead of falling apart emotionally, the former first-round pick composed himself and went six innings, giving up eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts to pick up his second win in a row.
“I think my start in Cincinnati taught me a lot,” said Fernandez, who in his first loss of the season on April 18 came undone when he gave up four runs in the fourth inning to the Reds. “In Cincinnati I was too worried about how I gave up three runs, and [Friday] I said, ‘OK, I gave up three runs and now I’m going to try to make good pitches, try not to give up any more runs.’ ”
Fernandez was exceptionally aggressive in the strike zone, throwing 66 of his 86 pitches for strikes — a 76.7 strike percentage that was his highest of the season. Manager Mike Redmond said Fernandez looked determined.
“You just could see it out there. He was going to make his pitches and get better,” Redmond said. “He pounded the strike zone and kept guys off balance.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly — on the hot seat after eight consecutive losses — was impressed.
“He’s one of those type guys that you want to get to early,” Mattingly said. “As he gets settled in, he gets better as the game goes along. He was aggressive in the strike zone. He wasn’t afraid of nobody. He was coming right after us.”
Boras, who signed the Marlins’ top prospect at the beginning of spring training, said before the game that Fernandez has shown him so far he’s on par if not better than some of the best pitchers to make their big-league debuts at the same age.
“It’s going to be quite a career, quite a ride,” said Boras, whose last top-shelf client to play for the Marlins was catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was with the Marlins for just one season — 2003 — before leaving via free agency.
“The numbers — I’ve got a list [of the pitchers to reach the majors at age 20] — [ Dwight] Gooden, [ Steve] Avery, [ Fernando] Valenzuela, all these guys that were very special pitchers. He’s off to a better start.”
A clean save
Closer Steve Cishek, who has endured his share of struggles this season, recorded his first 1-2-3 save of the season Friday night.
Cishek got the benefit of a borderline called strike three on the outside corner on pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke to open the ninth. He then got Carl Crawford to bounce out to first and struck out Nick Punto looking to end the game.
Cishek has had just six chances to pitch with the lead in the ninth this season — and that’s something Redmond said has affected him.
“I’ve been leaving the ball up, and that’s when I’ve gotten in trouble,” Cishek said.
“My main focus has been trying to throw everything hard at the knees and whatever happens, happens.”
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (0-0, 3.18 ERA) at Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano (0-2, 10.38), 4:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
• Monday: Off.
• Scouting report: Koehler, who was moved over from his long-reliever spot for the struggling Wade LeBlanc, made one start last season, going five innings and giving up six hits and three earned runs in a 4-2 loss to the Mets in the season finale. Capuano pitched eight shutout innings, gave up two hits and struck out 10 in a 5-0 win over the Marlins last August.