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DET@MIA: Alvarez tosses a no-hitter vs. the Tigers

MIAMI -- Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez's start against the Rockies on Wednesday night is special in its own right, because it's his first of 2014.

But the last time Alvarez took the mound at Marlins Park, the Venezuela native made history. On Sept. 29, the final day of the regular season, Alvarez no-hit the Tigers in a game Miami won 1-0 in walk-off style.

After retiring the side in the top of the ninth inning, it was an awkward moment for Alvarez, who started to celebrate until he was reminded the game was scoreless.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and Alvarez on deck, Giancarlo Stanton scored on a wild pitch. At that point, Alvarez was mobbed by his teammates.

The no-hitter was the fifth in Marlins history, and the first at Marlins Park.

As part of Monday's Opening Night festivities, Alvarez was recognized for his achievement. He was presented a portrait painted by Kadir Nelson. To honor his achievement, Alvarez sent his cleats to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In the eyes of the organization, Alvarez's no-hitter provided a lift to a team that lost 100 games.

"I think of that as a highlight to a rough year," manager Mike Redmond said. "It was the start of a productive offseason. We all drew momentum and kind of got a big lift out of that game. That game kind of energized us. We were like, 'This is what we have to look forward to with our pitching staff.' "

In the offseason in his home in Venezuela, Alvarez was well-received because of his season-ending no-hitter. Omar Vizquel, the veteran shortstop who is now the Tigers' first-base coach, was among the many who congratulated Alvarez. The righty also heard from some of his former Blue Jays teammates, as well as his winter ball club.

"It was big for me," Alvarez said. "It gave me the belief to keep following my dreams. This winter in Venezuela, I prepared myself to be ready in the spring and to continue my success."

The Rockies, meanwhile, will go with righty Jordan Lyles in his first start for Colorado. It comes as somewhat a surprise, after the club picked lefty Franklin Morales rather than him for a rotation spot.

Lyles was ticketed for Triple-A Colorado Springs. But on Friday night, Tyler Chatwood suffered a slight hamstring strain while running the bases in his final Spring Training start. Chatwood was fine when it came to pitching, but running -- whether covering a base or running the basepaths -- was deemed too risky.

So Lyles flew to Miami from the training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday. His parents from Hartsville, S.C., wanted to drive down, but Lyles told them they should fly rather than spend 10-11 hours in a car.

And here Lyles is.

The 23-year-old went 7-9 with a 5.59 ERA in 27 games, including 25 starts, last season for the Astros, who traded him and center fielder Brandon Barnes to the Rockies for center fielder Dexter Fowler during the winter. The Rockies saw areas he could improve, and he proved a quick study during a Spring Training that saw him go 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA.

During the spring, Lyles settled on mechanics that helped him sink his fastball, and he threw more curveballs than usual to gain a feel.

"Getting sent down out of camp, it's not fun, it's not what guys go into camp striving for," Lyles said. "But at the same time, I thought we had made some big strides with tweaking some mechanics. I thought I was in a better place than I've been in previous years."

Lyles is 14-29 with a 5.35 ERA in 72 games, including 65 starts, all before his 23rd birthday.

Rockies: Same old Tulo
The acrobatics of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki never get old for manager Walt Weiss.

In the fifth inning of Tuesday's game, the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna hit a bouncer that Tulowitzki had to range to his right to backhand. Going away from first base, Tulowitkzi made a leaping sidearm throw that carried first baseman Justin Morneau into foul ground, yet it was in time to beat Ozuna.

"He moves around out there like a little guy, but he's not a little guy, obviously," Weiss said. "He's a good one. We've been watching him for a long time. He can make every play a shortstop has to make."

Marlins: Winning the close call
Close games were a sore subject for the Marlins last year, so they were relieved to win their first close call of 2014.

In '13, Miami was 34-55 in games decided by two runs or fewer. In one-run affairs, they were 24-35.

So when Steve Cishek locked down his first save in his first chance, it was step in the right direction.

"We've talked about getting on the other end of those games, and we were able to do that," Redmond said. "We had a lot of great at-bats."

Worth noting:
• In Tuesday night's 4-3 Marlins victory, Morneau recorded his first three-hit game since he had four hits on Sept. 11, 2013, with the Pirates. He had eight games of three or more hits last year with the Twins and the Pirates, and his team won all of those games.

• Reed Johnson delivered a pinch-hit double in his first at-bat as a Marlin. The double set up the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning. Johnson has 62 career pinch-hits, the second most among active players. The pinch-hit active leader is Greg Dobbs, with 96.

• The Marlins have won eight of their last 12 home games against the Rockies.

• The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez is 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in the two games.

• The Marlins closed out 2013 by winning four straight, and are 2-0 for the first time since opening with four straight wins in 2009. Comments