The end result didn't go Lopez's or the Marlins' way, but as the night progressed, the rookie demonstrated poise along with the ability to adjust.
"There was a lot to like about that outing," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, the first couple were not exactly [smooth], but after that, it looked like he went on the attack."
Yelich, the former Marlin, finished with three hits and four RBIs, adding a two-run double in the ninth off Ben Meyer.
"[Yelich] is a good hitter. You've got to get the ball to different parts of the plate," Mattingly said. "You can't keep going to the same spots all the time. … You can't just leave the ball over the plate for him to do whatever he wants."
In his third big league start, Lopez appeared to go through some more growing pains as he suffered his first big league loss. But the right-hander also showed plenty of promise, finishing with four straight scoreless innings, giving him a more respectable line of five runs in six innings with six strikeouts.
"We knew we needed to make adjustments to take it deep into the game and help the bullpen out," Lopez said. "We created the plan to make the adjustment and attacked the strike zone more, mixing and throwing off-speed more and mainly staying in attack mode the rest of the night."
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Marlins' No. 20 prospect, Lopez was a recent callup from Triple-A New Orleans, after he spent most of the first half at Double-A Jacksonville. In 12 combined Minor League starts, the Venezuelan native boasted a 1.44 ERA.
The first couple of innings, however, were an uphill climb.
Eric Thames led off with a single and Yelich's double put runners on second and third before an out was recorded. Travis Shaw's fielder's choice RBI grounder to short opened the scoring. Shaw also hit a home run in the eighth inning off Javy Guerra.
The Marlins responded in the first off Jhoulys Chacin with run-scoring singles from Garrett Cooper and JT Riddle. But in the second inning, Lopez labored with command and surrendered four runs, all coming on two-out, two-run hits by Yelich and Saladino.
At 51 pitches through two innings, it looked like it could be a short outing for Lopez.
"I thought he got off to a rough start, but he settled in, and he competed," catcher Bryan Holaday said. "At the end of the day, he made some really, really good pitches. He made some bad ones early, but I think he overcame it. He gave us a strong outing. I think it shows us a lot of good signs of maturity."
The rookie rebounded and breezed through the next four innings on 52 total pitches, allowing only one baserunner. Shaw reached with one out in the fifth on Lopez's error, as he wasn't able to control Cooper's flip at first base.
Lopez was able to make it through six innings on 103 pitches largely because he improved his command on all four of his pitches -- four-seam and two-seam fastballs, plus his curveball and changeup. His pitch count in a single inning didn't raise higher than 15 pitches the rest of the night.
"Earlier in the game, I was just falling behind guys. Not mixing and throwing inside as much," Lopez said. "I got aggressive as in getting ahead more, and attacking the strike zone, and pitching inside, especially after getting ahead, and making guys aware of that. I was throwing more off-speed, pitching backwards. Start with breaking balls and finishing with more fastballs."
Lopez even helped his cause with his first big league hit, a single in the second. He added a walk and scored on Brian Anderson's RBI groundout to short in the fourth.
"I had a feeling I was getting a 3-1 fastball, so I tried to be ready for it," Lopez said of his first hit. "I used to hit a little bit growing up. I need to definitely work more on my bunting, that's what I actually need to be doing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Squandered second chance: After the Brewers put four on the board in the second inning to claim a three-run lead, the Marlins chipped back with a run in the second on Derek Dietrich's sacrifice fly. Miami also caught a break on a misplayed grounder off the bat of Starlin Castro to Saladino at short. He bobbled the ball and made a late flip to second baseman Brad Miller, who was unable to gain possession of the toss. Initially, the umpired called Anderson out at second on the force out.
The Marlins challenged, and the call was overturned. But with the bases full and one out, Chacin fanned Cooper and retired Riddle on a tapper to second.
"We'd have liked to get another one right there, at least," Mattingly said. "We had Coop up there. He had already driven in a run. He gets a shot there with bases loaded, and one out. Yeah, that one, it would have been nice to get another one right there. But we had our chances later on, but we weren't able to get enough people on."
SOUND SMART Anderson went 2-for-5 (two singles) in the game, recording his 30th multi-hit game, the most among all MLB rookies this season.
HE SAID IT "I think it was just fastball command. He was a little erratic early and fell behind in some counts. He made some mistakes, and that's a great hitting team over there. You don't want to make many mistakes to them, because they capitalize. It seems like they don't miss. But after that second inning, he started locating that two-seamer whenever he wanted, and you saw the results." -- Holaday, on what clicked for Lopez in turning his start around
UP NEXT Dan Straily (3-4, 4.55 ERA) will get the nod in the series finale against the Brewers at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park on Wednesday. In his last three starts, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA. Straily has been good against the Brewers in his career, posting a 4-0 record with a 2.12 ERA against Milwaukee, which will start Freddy Peralta (4-1, 2.14).