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Strong pitching matchup set for Braves-Marlins opener

(SportsNetwork.com) - When Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood squared off a week ago, they engaged in a pitchers' duel not seen by a pair of youngsters since the William McKinley administration.

The two clash again on Tuesday night when the Miami Marlins play host to the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three-game series.

Fernandez and Wood went toe-to-toe in Atlanta last Tuesday, a game won by the Marlins 1-0. Both starters went eight innings and combined for 15 strikeouts, though Wood came away with the loss as he gave up an RBI single to Casey McGehee with one out in the fourth inning.

The 21-year-old Fernandez, meanwhile, allowed three hits and matched a career high with 14 strikeouts, while not walking a batter. Wood, 23, also did not issue a free pass and yielded only four hits while setting a personal best with 11 strikeouts.

Comically, Fernandez noted that his breaking ball, which Braves hitters chased all game, was what he called "horrible" in the bullpen before the game.

"I thought, when they say 'play ball,' hopefully it gets better because that's the only thing you can hope for," said Fernandez.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time that two opposing starters both younger than 24 each struck out more than 10 batters in the same game since July 31, 1901, when 22-year-old Reds hurler Noodles Hahn struck out 11 and 22-year-old Cub Long Tom Hughes fanned 15.

Add in another three strikeouts and zero walks by the two bullpens, and the combined 28 strikeouts were the most by two teams in a game without a walk since 1900, per Elias.

Fernandez's victory was his first in three games and he is 3-1 on the season with a 1.99 earned run average, with the righty having posted 47 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. He also moved to 2-1 lifetime versus the Braves with a 1.29 ERA,

Wood, meanwhile, suffered his second straight 1-0 loss after losing by the same margin at Philadelphia on April 17. He has yielded two runs of fewer in all five of his starts this year, but is under .500 at 2-3.

The lefty also remained winless versus the Marlins, 0-2 with a 3.72 ERA in five games (3 starts).

The Braves also won by a 1-0 margin on Sunday, besting the Cincinnati Reds in 10 innings to sweep the three-game set and record their fourth straight victory. Atlanta has won six of eight and sits 10 games over .500 at 17-7.

"April is going about as good as it can go. There's nothing else you can really say about it, except that we need to keep working towards playing the way we've been playing," said Atlanta's Dan Uggla.

Miami, meanwhile, has lost four of six and has been held to three runs or fewer in all but one of those games. That includes a 4-0 setback to the New York Mets on Sunday, when the Marlins managed just three singles.

"We have to execute better offensively," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.

The Braves took two of three at home versus the Marlins last week and have won eight of the last 11 meetings. They won eight of 10 last season in Miami and are 15-4 all-time at Marlins Park.