Houston is trying to hold on to first place in the National League Central Division despite the absence of ace
, who is sidelined with a groin injury.
Fernandez (1-0), who had his contract purchased from Class AAA New Orleans on Friday, provided temporary relief against the Marlins. The knuckleballer allowed just one run and three hits while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings.
"I consider myself an older rookie, who understands the importance of winning games at this time of year," said Fernandez, who is 31 but has just 19 career appearances. "I came up here feeling like I could contribute."
"What can you say about the job Fernandez did out there," Houston manager
said. "He set the tone of the game. He's persevered through the minor leagues and awaited his chance and it paid off."
The Marlins managed just two singles and a double against Fernandez and were held to five hits overall.
"(The knuckleballs) look so good to hit. They look like basketballs," Florida manager Jack McKeon said. "Our guys wanted to see how far they could hit them and it doesn't work that way."
Merced snapped a 1-1 tie when he opened the third with a homer off Florida starter
capped the scoring with an RBI single four batters later.
Redman struggled early, allowing a leadoff single
in the second inning. He walked Berkman before
singled to plate Kent for a 1-0 edge.
Fernandez worked around a leadoff walk in the first but gave up a double to
with one out in the second. Encarnacion advanced on a wild pitch before rookie
delivered a game-tying single with two out.
Merced gave the Astros the lead for good with his second homer of the season, driving an 0-1 pitch from Redman over the right field wall.
"I hit the breaking ball pretty good," he said. "I was able to drive it to right, which is pretty tough here. It's always nice to contribute, especially when I don't get a lot of starts."
followed with a double and scored on Berkman's two-out single.
Fernandez retired 11 in a row before hitting
with one out in the sixth and left after
singled. Lidge entered and Castillo was caught stealing before
grounded out to end the threat.
Rodriguez was ejected by home plate umpire Justine Klemm following the at-bat for arguing balls and strikes.
"I'm going to keep my mouth shut from now until the end of the season and just play baseball," he said.
The Marlins did not get another hit until the ninth, when Pierre had a leadoff infield single.
singled with two out, but Wagner got Encarnacion on a game-ending line drive.