MIAMI -- At 37, Randy Wolf has lived through plenty of three-game losing streaks. His experience has taught him how to stop them.
Wolf lulled the Rays' hitters through six innings, holding them to a run on three hits and proving the foundation of a 3-1 Marlins' victory at Marlins Park. Casey McGehee's two-run single in the first was all Wolf and four relievers would need for the Marlins to claim the opening game of this home-and-home interleague set.
Losers of seven straight, the Rays had won six straight road games against the Marlins, including all five meetings at Marlins Park. They also arrived in South Florida having dominated the Citrus Series of late, winning 13 of the last 16 meetings -- including a four-game home-and-home sweep last season -- dating back to 2012.
Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the National League East-leading Braves, the Marlins for the sixth time since May 1 opened play with a .500 record and won. They have not been below the breakeven point since April 30 (14-15).
Steve Cishek's 12th save clinched Wolf's 133rd career victory. The quality start was Wolf's first since Aug. 8, 2012 as a member of the Brewers against the Reds. That also was the last time he struck out as many as seven in a major league start. Wolf missed all of 2013 recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
"It's been a long, crazy road, especially recently," Wolf said. "In 2012 when I found out I had no ligament it was tough news and I knew it was going to be a long road. It was tough in 2013 to be at home. I tried to make the most of it and kind of having an unknown future and counted out because of your age, it is a gratifying feeling to work hard and come back and have a win. For me, it's not time to sit back and relax. I feel like I have more to do to help this team."
Charlie Hough and Al Leiter were the only two starting pitchers in Marlins history age 37 or older to win games.
Yunel Escobar with one out in the fourth notched the first of the three hits Wolf allowed. The lone batter Wolf walked -- Sean Rodriguez to start the fifth -- scored on a Desmond Jennings' double. Wolf sat down six of the last seven batters he faced, finishing the 86-pitch outing with a pedestrian 60.5 percent strike rate.
Wolf threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of 22 batters faced and completed four innings before his first three-ball count. Featuring a fastball that sat in the high 80s, Wolf early in the game initiated plenty of early, weak contact. That wasn't the case in his first start on May 25 against the Brewers, who tagged him for six runs (four earned) in nine hits.
"I went in today realizing less and more and concentrating on making pitches," Wolf said. "I was able to locate my fastball and early on my slider was pretty good. I was able to bury it down on right-handers."
The Marlins took advantage of two Alex Cobb walks in the first, getting base hits from Ed Lucas and McGehee to build a 3-0 lead. McGehee's knock with no outs and the bases loaded plated two, and another scored on a Garrett Jones double play ball.
For McGehee, the multi-RBI effort was his second in three games and 10th this season. He opened the week pacing all National League third baseman with 34 RBI, three more than Pedro Alvarez and four more than David Wright.
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services