Cubs Survive the Ninth and Beat the Fish – Cubs 2 Marlins 1

Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 2 Marlins 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (7-6) LP – Ricky Nolasco (6-6) Save – Sean Marshall (2)

wflag.jpgRyan Dempster was at the top of his game on Friday afternoon and should be the story from Friday’s win against the Marlins. But the continued struggles of Carlos Marmol, coupled with Mike Quade pulling him in the ninth in favor of Sean Marshall, will be the headline.

For the second game in a row, the ninth inning was an adventure for Carlos Marmol. The Cubs’ closer was lifted after allowing a run on two hits with a walk and no strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. For the sixth straight outing Marmol did not strikeout a batter and only retired one of the four batters he faced.

Marlon Byrd cut off a ball in the gap and threw out Hanley Ramirez trying to stretch a single into a double for the second out of the inning. After Logan Morrison made it a one run game with a single to right, Quade brought in Sean Marshall to close it out.

Sean Marshall struck out Mike Stanton swinging to end the game. Marshall’s fourth career save preserved the win for Ryan Dempster.

Ryan Dempster picked up where Matt Garza left off and tossed eight innings of shutout ball. Cubs’ starters have combined to throw 15 shutout innings over the first two games of the series. Dempster found a rhythm early and allowed only two hits in the first seven innings and ended up allowing four in eight frames. Dempster kept the leadoff hitter off base in each of his eight innings and retired the Marlins in order in all but three innings on Friday afternoon.

The key to Ryan Dempster’s success was zero walks. Dempster struck out nine and threw 117 pitches, 78 for strikes.

Ryan Dempster picked up his seventh victory of the season and the Cubs improved to 9-2 in Dempster’s last 11 starts.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent with the exception of Marlon Byrd (2-for-3 with a double and a run scored). Q’s offense did not record an RBI. Both of the Cubs runs on Friday afternoon scored on a lazy fly ball off the bat of Alfonso Soriano in the fourth that fell between Omar Infante and Mike Stanton. Infante was charged with the error but the loss was hung on Ricky Nolasco.

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 38-56 on the season … 18 games below .500.

Ryan Dempster and Ricky Nolasco locked in a pitcher’s duel through four innings. The Cubs made a little noise in the first two innings … but they hit into two double plays, both of the around the horn variety.

Kosuke Fukudome walked to start the bottom of the first and Starlin Castro singled to left but Aramis Ramirez ripped Nolasco’s first pitch to third … 5-4-3 double play and Pena struck out swinging to end the first.

Dempster retired the Marlins in order in the top of the second … that was six Marlins up and six Fish down at that point.

Marlon Byrd led off the bottom of the second with a bloop single to center … but Soto hit a 0-1 pitch to third, 5-4-3 double play and Soriano flied out to left center to end the inning.

Ricky Nolasco stepped in with two outs in the third. Nolasco was 2-for-29 on the season prior to his at bat in the third inning. Nolasco ripped a 2-2 pitch off the wall in left … and just missed a home run. With Nolasco at second, Dempster struck out Bonifacio to end the inning. Dempster threw 40 pitches in three innings, 25 for strikes.

The Cubs could not take advantage of a two-out single by Kosuke in the bottom of the third and after three there was no score.

Dempster retired the Marlins in order in the top of the fourth.

Carlos Pena reached on a one-out single to right in the bottom of the fourth. Marlon Byrd followed with a double down the right field line. Pena held at third with one out.

With runners on second and third with one out, Geovany Soto was called out on a check swing for out number two.

Alfonso Soriano popped up a 1-1 pitch into shallow right and it appeared the Marlins would get out of the inning. But Omar Infante and Mike Stanton let the ball fall and both Pena and Byrd scored on what was ruled an error by Omar Infante. Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Marlins gift gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead after four.

Dempster and Nolasco settled in after the fourth. Dempster retired the Marlins in order in the fifth and Nolasco did the same to the Cubs in the home half.

Emilio Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a two out single in the sixth. Bonifacio advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt by Ryan Dempster … but Infante blooped out to Barney to end the inning. After six, Dempster had thrown 84 pitches, 55 for strikes.

Dempster struck out two more in the top of the seventh and retired the Fish in order for the fifth time on Friday afternoon.

Ryan Dempster notched the Cubs seventh hit, a two-out single in the seventh but Kosuke Fukudome struck out swinging to end the inning.

Dempster retired the first two batters he faced to start the eighth. John Buck ripped a 1-1 pitch into center, the Marlins’ third hit of the game. Dewayne Wise ran for Buck and Jack McKeon sent Greg Dobbs to the plate to hit for Ricky Nolasco.

Dobbs lined a 1-2 pitch down the left field line. Reed Johnson hustled over and cut off the ball and held Dobbs to a single. Wise ended up at third and for the first time all day the Marlins had two runners on base in a single inning.

Mike Quade jogged out, talked to Dempster and left him in the game. McKeon sent Bryan Peterson into run for Dobbs. Bonifacio grounded out to second on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Burke Badenhop and Randy Choate in the bottom of the eighth.

Carlos Marmol had another bad outing and ended up being lifted with two outs in the ninth. Marmol walked Omar Infante on four pitches to start the ninth. Right after Marmol missed on the third pitch to Infante, Quade got Sean Marshall back up in the pen.

Marmol retired Gaby Sanchez on a pop out to short. Hanley Ramirez lined a 3-2 pitch into left center. Ramirez tried to stretch the 1000th hit of his career into a double. Marlon Byrd made a strong throw to Barney, who made an excellent tag for the second out of the inning. Instead of first and third with one out, Hanley ran his team out of a possible big inning.

Logan Morrison ripped a 3-2 pitch into right center. Infante scored and Marmol’s afternoon was over.

With the Cubs up be a single run, Sean Marshall came in and struck out Mike Stanton swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.

The Cubs took advantage of a Marlins miscue … and it was a defensive play by Marlon Byrd that ended up playing a big part in preserving the game for the Chicago Cubs.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano will return from the DL on Saturday and face Javier Vazquez in game three.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax