PHILADELPHIA -- Marlins ace Jose Fernandez spoke for both teams Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Fernandez had allowed just one run in 18 innings in three starts last season against the Phillies, and he had not allowed more than two runs in a start against anybody since July 7, a streak of 13 consecutive starts, including his first two this season. The Phils, meanwhile, played sloppily in four consecutive losses this week to the Cubs and Brewers. They allowed 10 unearned runs, committed six errors, hit just .171 with runners in scoring position and were outscored, 33-13.
"This is why this game is amazing," Fernandez said following a 6-3 loss to the Phillies, in which he allowed a career-high six earned runs. "You throw two good starts, and then you come up here and get your [butt] kicked."
The opposite could be said for the Phillies. They played four games about as poorly as they could be played, but showed a solid approach at the plate against one of the best pitchers in baseball and pitched well in some big spots.
It might have been just the 10th game of the season, but the Phillies needed this.
"It was huge," Marlon Byrd said.
"How everybody is counting them out and they're still coming out swinging? Yeah, I'll talk about it," said A.J. Burnett, who left his start in the fifth inning because of a sore right groin. "It's fun to watch. You see guys pulling for each other. I mean, even after I gave up [a game-tying two-run home run in the second], there's no heads down, it's not quiet in there. It's not like, 'Oh no, now we're tied up,' or 'We've got to come back.' It's just game on."
Friday was the first time Fernandez had allowed more than three runs since May 27. The Phillies took a 2-0 lead against him in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins hit a one-out single up the middle to get things started. A fielder's choice and a walk to Ryan Howard put runners on first and second when Byrd hit a 1-2 curveball off the top of the left-field wall. Chase Utley scored easily, while Howard held at third.
"It was the only breaking ball that really didn't have much bite," Byrd said. "It just sat there."
Domonic Brown followed and stroked a 99-mph fastball to right field for a base hit. Howard scored to make it 2-0, but Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton gunned down Byrd at the plate.
Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich's two-run homer in the second made it 2-2.
Fernandez walked Tony Gwynn Jr. and Rollins and allowed a single to Utley to load the bases with no outs in the third. He walked Howard to score Gwynn to make it 3-2.
Fernandez had tied a career high with four walks, but he struck out Byrd, Brown and Carlos Ruiz to end the inning. Fernandez then struck out Cody Asche, Burnett and Gwynn in order in the fourth, but the Phillies finally got the big inning they wanted in the fifth.
Rollins started with a triple. He scored on Utley's single. Howard followed with a single to right and Byrd's single to center scored Utley to hand the Phillies a 5-2 lead. Marlins right-hander Kevin Slowey replaced Fernandez, but allowed one of his inherited runners to score to make it 6-2.
An announced crowd of 22,283, the smallest at the Bank since July 31, 2006 (20,956), had just watched the slumping Phillies beat one of the best pitchers in baseball.
"He's aggressive, we tried to be aggressive," Byrd said. "He's tough. Gosh, 98 mph, that hard breaking ball, changeup at 90 mph. We had to kind of look up in the zone and hopefully he'd leave something over the plate. We took some good swings tonight. Everything we've been working on finally came together."
But the Phillies' bullpen also picked up 14 outs, allowing only one run in the process. Burnett left the bases loaded with one out in the fifth when left-hander Jake Diekman made his seventh appearance in 10 games, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Dietrich to end the inning.
"I think you saw the momentum change when he did that," Burnett said.
"It's good," Diekman said about being put in a tough spot. "It's like a trust factor. You feel more confident because you were put in that situation. Then the key is to just throw, try to throw strikes. It's harder than that to do, but realistically you can throw one pitch and be out of the inning."
Mario Hollands, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon followed, with Papelbon throwing a 93-mph fastball past Stanton for the second out in the ninth.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.