MIAMI — Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez was certain Rick Vanden Hurk had accepted his role as a spot starter. But after a strong performance by the young right-hander on short notice Tuesday night, that might not be the case.
Hanley Ramirez drove in three runs and Vanden Hurk, recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque Tuesday morning, pitched five sharp innings as the Marlins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0.
Vanden Hurk (3-2), a native of the Netherlands, allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one to win his first major league start since beating Kansas City on June 16.
“I felt more relaxed and comfortable today,” said Vanden Hurk, who tossed a scoreless inning to earn the win for the World Team in last week’s All-Star Futures game. “I want to stay here as long as I can and make sure we win like we did today.”
The 22-year-old Vanden Hurk had been called up from the minors twice before, and entered with an 8.38 ERA in seven appearances for Florida. He started in place of Josh Johnson, who has been on the disabled list since July 5 with a right forearm strain.
“I’m very happy with today,” Vanden Hurk said. “My fastball was down and I was happy I could keep it there.”
Five Marlins relievers then scattered two hits over the final four innings to preserve the shutout.
Brad Thompson (6-4) pitched six innings, giving up three runs and seven hits for St. Louis, which hadn’t been shut out since losing 2-0 to the New York Mets on June 27.
“I was one pitch away from being a good pitcher,” Thompson said. “I’m just mad at myself for making a few mistakes. It’s just a frustrating day.”
Florida took a 1-0 lead in the third when Alfredo Amezaga led off with a single, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vanden Hurk. Ramirez followed with an RBI double to right, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
The Cardinals threatened with runners at second and third and nobody out in the third inning.
Albert Pujols lined to short and Ramirez dropped it, but he recovered to easily throw out Pujols. Vanden Hurk intentionally walked Chris Duncan to load the bases, then struck out Scott Rolen and got Juan Encarnacion to fly out to get out of the inning.