Cubs' bats cooled in loss to Marlins
Nine-game road winning streak comes to an end
MIAMI -- The Cubs' road streak is over.
Hanley Ramirez hit a solo home run and Cody Ross hit a tie-breaking RBI single to spark the Florida Marlins to a 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Saturday night, snapping their road win streak at nine.
"Let's win another nine, and nobody will remember this one," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
After averaging 8.4 runs per game over the nine-game stretch, the Cubs were stymied, and stranded 13.
"We had chances -- what can I say?" Piniella said. "We had some people up there who we have all the confidence in the world in, and we didn't get it done."
Sean Marshall (2-3) took the loss in his fourth start of the season, and first since July 6. The lefty, inserted into the rotation to avoid having any of the starters go on short rest following a doubleheader Wednesday, matched a career high with eight strikeouts over five innings, and gave up two runs on four hits.
"I can take a lot of positives from today's game," Marshall said. "I know I had a leadoff home run to put them on the board early, and that's kind of a disappointment, but there were a lot of positives from my aspect. We weren't happy we didn't get those guys on base in tonight, but I think we'll come around tomorrow and bounce right back."
Some of the Cubs regulars did not start Saturday, part of Piniella's plan to give guys a breather. Instead, he stacked the lineup with left-handed hitters because they were batting .400 against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez (2-2). But only right-handed-hitting catcher Henry Blanco could make solid contact, hitting a game-tying home run with two outs in the fourth off Sanchez.
Ramirez had given the Marlins the lead with his leadoff homer in the first, but Marshall settled down, striking out the next three batters.
"It was a cutter [to Ramirez] and I left it in the middle," Marshall said. "He got his bat head out front, and it just barely got over the fence. It's disappointing it was the first at-bat of the game."
The Marlins had a runner at second with two outs in the fifth and the Cubs chose to intentionally walk Ramirez. Ross followed with an RBI single, and Marshall intentionally walked Jorge Cantu to load the bases. But he struck out Mike Jacobs to end the inning.
"[Ramirez] was seeing the ball pretty well off me, and I figured I had a pretty good chance to get Ross," Marshall said. "I made a good pitch, and I think he was looking for one pitch and muscled it past the second baseman for an RBI single."
The so-called day off ended early for Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto and Aramis Ramirez. Chicago loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom got Lee to ground out, much to the dismay of the many Cubs fans in the crowd of 39,124, largest of the season at Dolphin Stadium. The Cubs had runners at first and third with two outs in the eighth, including Soto, who had singled with two outs, but Aramis Ramirez grounded out.
"We made some runs at it," Lee said. "I had a shot there and didn't get it done. Some other shots didn't work out."
Lately, the Cubs have been able to deliver. They were hitting .311 in the nine road wins, and had scored at least six runs in each of the games for the first time since a stretch dating back to 1880. That's not a typo -- the stretch was June 5-19, 1880. You can look it up.
"We rested some people," Piniella said of his lineup. "I've got some people hurt. You can't play everybody in this hot weather in August, especially in places like Atlanta where you play a doubleheader, and then play here. You better rotate your team. We don't want to be empty after Labor Day. We want to keep the team fresh and play."
On a positive note, Lee did notch his 1,500th career hit with a single in the ninth off Marlins closer Kevin Gregg.
"It's cool -- I don't know if it's a milestone," Lee said. "Maybe 2,000 [hits]."
He can get started on that and a new road win streak Sunday in the series finale.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.