Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws during the...

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Los Angeles, Monday, May 6, 2024. Credit: AP/Ashley Landis

LOS ANGELES — It wasn't the brilliant outing Walker Buehler was hoping for, but the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher is happy he's back on the mound.

Making his first major league start in nearly two years Monday night, Buehler went four innings and struck out four in the Dodgers' 6-3 victory over the Miami Marlins.

“I think the ceremony of it is done, and now I can kind of focus on trying to be good and helping our team,” Buehler said. “I wish it would have gone better and thrown five or six shutout innings, but it’s done and I’m glad to be back.”

The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits. He threw 77 pitches, 49 for strikes. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game that Buehler's pitch count would be anywhere from 80 to 85.

Buehler did not factor in the decision, but he departed with the Dodgers holding a three-run lead on the strength of four homers, including Shohei Ohtani's fourth in three games.

“I know that Walker felt all the emotion of the fans, maybe a little bit too much,” Roberts said. “I thought the first inning, there were some 98s (mph) in there. I didn’t expect to see that velocity. I think a lot of that was adrenaline. I felt the last two innings were his best as far as commanding the baseball, the stuff and the efficiency of outs.”

It was Buehler's first big league start since June 10, 2022, at San Francisco. The 29-year-old two-time All-Star had his second Tommy John surgery on Aug. 23 that year. The first reconstructive surgery on his right elbow was in 2015 shortly after he was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers.

Buehler allowed four hits his first time through the order, including RBI singles by Bryan De La Cruz and Jesús Sánchez in the first and Nick Gordon's solo homer in the second, but only one his second time around.

“The first two innings weren’t as successful as I wanted it, but most of those were on two-strike or 0-0 pitches, kind of the last things that you can sharpen up,” Buehler said.

The biggest surprise was Buehler's velocity. He threw 13 pitches 96 mph or harder, including a 97.6 mph fastball that leadoff hitter Jazz Chisholm Jr. fouled off in the first inning.

Roberts tried to lower expectations about Buehler's velocity during his pregame remarks and focused more on pitch command.

“I didn’t think there was 98 in there still or 97 or whatever it was. I think that helps with the adrenaline of being back,” Buehler said. “I’ve been somewhat concerned about the velocity a little bit. So you kind of try and ride it and see what’s in there. I think the next one, I’ll probably feel the same and be able to temper a little bit knowing that it’s in there.”

Buehler appeared anxious during his warmup pitches before facing Chisholm.

The nerves didn't subside when the center fielder fouled off four straight pitches and got aboard with an infield single inside the third-base line on the ninth pitch of the at-bat with the infield shifted to the right.

Chisholm stole second and scored on De La Cruz’s base hit to right-center. Buehler retired the next two batters, but De La Cruz scored on Jesús Sánchez’s single to right. Buehler got out of the inning when Tim Anderson was called out on batter interference when Sánchez tried to steal second.

After the Dodgers scored three in the bottom of the first, Gordon tied it with a solo shot just over the right-field wall on a full-count cutter from Buehler that was slightly elevated.

Buehler settled down after that and allowed only two more hits. He put two more Marlins aboard after a throwing error and a hit batter, but prevented any damage.

Buehler threw 25 pitches in the first, 17 strikes. He was at 48 pitches after two innings.

Roberts, though, was pleased with the way Buehler was able to command his pitches as the game went along.

“I thought there were some cutters that didn’t get there. He left that breaking ball up to Sánchez for the two-out base hit. The fastball misfired a little bit, but I thought it was much better than I expected,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Buehler's next start will be Sunday when the Dodgers wrap up a three-game series against San Diego.

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