His 98th and final pitch, a 0-2 breaking ball to Jason Heyward, was so good that Jose Fernandez seemingly started to make his way to the dugout before Jarrod Saltalamacchia could frame it. So ended Fernandez's second consecutive gem against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves.

After holding them to three hits and striking out 14 over a career-high eight innings on April 22 at Turner Field, Fernandez came back with another eight scoreless. This time he gave up two hits and struck out eight in a series-opening, 9-0 laugher at Marlins Park Tuesday.

Fernandez (4-1) improved to 12-0 with a 1.00 ERA with 32 walks and 143 strikeouts in 19 career home starts (125 2/3 innings). He now is two shy of matching David Palmer's modern day record of 21 straight undefeated home outings to start a career.

Since 2000, Fernandez is the only pitcher in the majors to throw seven or more scoreless innings in 10 of his first 34 major league appearances. Mat Latos, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver all had seven apiece at the same point in their careers.

"He knows what he's doing out there," manager Mike Redmond said, adding that if the game was closer he would have sent Fernandez (98 pitches) out for the ninth and a chance at his first shutout. "For such a young kid, he's got a lot of weapons and he knows how to compete. He knows how to pitch. I don't know that I've seen a guy as far along at an early age as he is."

Fernandez, 21, credited Saltalamacchia, saying: "I told him, 'You know what? Whatever you put down I'm throwing. That was basically how it was. Thank God my changeup was working good because my breaking ball wasn't as sharp.