LOS ANGELES (AP) — Walker Buehler asked a reporter if he had anything in his teeth before the TV lights turned on.
The Dodgers’ prized prospect was equally cool on the mound, tossing five scoreless innings in his first major league start, and Los Angeles defeated the Miami Marlins 2-1 on Monday night.
“He’s pretty confident and cocky,” shortstop Enrique Hernandez said. “We kind of like his attitude sometimes.”
Buehler topped out at 99 mph while allowing four hits in an 89-pitch outing. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked three in helping the Dodgers (11-10) move above .500 for the first time this season with their third straight win.
“He’s a guy with a tremendous arm,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Cody Bellinger drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“We’re finally starting to play good and we’ve got to keep it going,” said Hernandez, who homered on a 3-2 pitch from Marlins starter Jarlin Garcia in the fourth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Hernandez backed Buehler with two sparkling defensive plays in place of shortstop Corey Seager, who struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
After Buehler issued a two-out walk to Garcia, Hernandez made a diving stop on a ball headed up the middle and whipped around to complete a pinpoint throw to first to end the inning.
Hernandez turned in a similar play in the third to throw out Starlin Castro for the second out.
“They don’t do that very much in low-A ball,” Buehler said. “These guys are really good.”
Buehler pitched himself in and out of trouble in the first.
After retiring leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas on a grounder, Buehler gave up consecutive singles on identical 89 mph sliders to J.T. Realmuto and Castro. Brian Anderson took a called third strike before Cameron Maybin walked to load the bases.
But Buehler was unruffled. He got JB Shuck on a swinging strike to end the inning and start a run of retiring seven of eight batters.
“I’ve had the bases loaded a lot in my life,” Buehler said. “It would be great to dominate, but to put up zeros and come out of the game unscathed is the biggest thing. The more and more comfortable you get here, I think the fastball command will come.”
Maybin singled on a 95 mph fastball from Buehler in the fourth.
Realmuto singled on a 78 mph curve from Buehler with two outs in the fifth before he induced an inning-ending groundout from Castro.
“He has a really good fastball and he mixed four different pitches, which is pretty rare for a guy who can throw that hard,” Realmuto said.
Garcia gave up one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one as the Marlins fell to 2-8 on the road with their season-high fifth straight loss overall.
Miami tied it 1-all in the eighth on Anderson’s RBI single off J.T. Chargois.
Chris Taylor doubled leading off the bottom half, went to third on Hernandez’s bunt single and scored on Bellinger’s lineout to right.
Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the win in relief, his first since July 21, 2016. Josh Fields pitched the ninth for his first save.
Kyle Barraclough (0-1) took the loss, allowing one run and two hits in the eighth.
Buehler, drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 2015 out of Vanderbilt, made his major league debut last September as a reliever when the team insisted on limiting his innings. He allowed eight runs in 9 1/3 innings last year and didn’t make the playoff roster.
Buehler pitched sparingly in spring training, giving up one hit without allowing a run in four innings. He began the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in three starts.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Buehler’s performance didn’t change anything as far as the team’s cautious approach with him.
“There is a learning curve that is happening before our eyes,” he said. “We’ve got to think about the next decision.”
Marlins: RHP Elieser Hernandez (tooth infection) will throw five innings Tuesday when he begins a rehab assignment. … Martin Prado (left hamstring strain) will play seven innings at third base Tuesday in the start of a rehab assignment. … JT Riddle (right shoulder tendinitis) will play five innings at shortstop in his rehab assignment. … 1B-OF Garrett Cooper (bruised right wrist) will begin range-of-motion exercises.
Dodgers: 2B-3B Logan Forsythe (right shoulder inflammation) took grounders and did some throwing, but no rehab assignment has been scheduled. … LHP Rich Hill (left middle finger inflammation) is set to throw 75 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday.
Buehler’s 89 pitches were the most he’s thrown in his pro career. He said it was also the most since he pitched in the College World Series. “It was kind of a wake up for me,” he said. “I’ve felt for a while that I can throw more, but as I said, I understand it and we’ll move forward that way.”
LHP Dillon Peters (2-2, 6.98 ERA) starts for the Marlins against RHP Kenta Maeda (2-1, 3.77).
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