Cubs Cannot Complete the Sweep in Miami – Cubs 4, Marlins 6

Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 4, Marlins 6

WP – Ricky Nolasco (2-2) LP – Carlos Villanueva (1-1) Save – Steve Cishek (3)

The Cubs gave another game away on Sunday afternoon in Miami and could not complete the four-game sweep of the Marlins. The Cubs had two different leads but Giancarlo Stanton had his best game of the season while the Cubs’ defense helped the Fish take the lead in the sixth.

Carlos Villanueva put together another solid start and made only three mistakes in his six innings of work … but two of Villanueva’s mistakes were to Giancarlo Stanton and it cost him three runs. Giancarlo Stanton hit his second homer in as many games in the first inning after Villanueva walked Chris Coghlan on four pitches. With the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead in the sixth, two outs and Juan Pierre at second, Villanueva pitched to Stanton and he drove in Pierre with a single to left that tied the game. Stanton scored the eventual winning run on a single by Donovan Solano that was initially charged as an error to Starlin Castro. The Cubs pitched to Giancarlo Stanton on Sunday and he went 3-for-3 with two home runs, a walk, four RBI and three runs scored.

Villanueva struck out four of the first nine batters he face and did not allow his second hit until the sixth inning. Villanueva retired 14 of 15 after Stanton’s shot in the first inning but walked away with the loss. Villanueva allowed four runs, all earned, on four hits, three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings. Villanueva threw 100 pitches, 64 for strikes.

Kameron Loe served up solo homers to Nick Green in the seventh and Giancarlo Stanton in the eighth that allowed the Marlins to put the game out of reach.

The Cubs’ offense had a chance to add on in the third after Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) doubled in two runs and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. But Alfonso Soriano’s struggles with runners in scoring position continued. Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-4 on Sunday and left five runners on base. For the season, Soriano is 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position.

David DeJesus (1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored) scored two of the Cubs’ four runs. Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) doubled in DeJesus in the first inning. Carlos Villanueva (1-for-2 with a run scored) scored on Castro’s two-run double in the third. Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a home run) added a solo homer in the ninth that accounted for the Cubs last run of the game.

For as good as the Cubs defense was throughout the series and for the first five innings of Sunday’s game, two mistakes in the sixth changed the game. Alfonso Soriano missed the cutoff man trying to throw out Pierre at the plate on Stanton’s game tying single. Stanton took second on the throw and Villanueva walked Greg Dobbs. Donovan Solano lined a single over the head of Starlin Castro that was originally scored as an error, changed to a hit in the eighth. Castro was late getting his glove up.

The Cubs finished the 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record and still won the series in Miami (3-1) with Sunday’s loss. The Cubs are 0-4 on Sundays this season.

David DeJesus led off the game with a free pass (3-1 pitch). After Castro flied out to center, Anthony Rizzo pulled a 1-1 pitch into right center. DeJesus scored, 1-0 Cubs. Soriano’s struggles continued as he grounded out to third for the second out. Rizzo advanced to third but was stranded as Schierholtz popped out to Green in left center for the third out.

Carlos Villanueva dove and tagged Juan Pierre on a swinging bunt up the first baseline to begin his outing. Villanueva seemed a little rattled after hitting the turf and issued a four-pitch walk to Chris Coghlan. Villanueva jumped ahead of Stanton before Giancarlo Stanton lifted a 2-2 pitch into the stands in left … and just like that, the Marlins had a 2-1 lead. Villanueva stuck out Dobbs and Donovan Solano lined out to a diving Starlin Castro to end the inning. Villanueva threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes, in the opening frame.

Villanueva settled down in the second. Villanueva struck out two of the three batters he faced. Villanueva threw 30 pitches, 19 strikes, over the first two innings.

Carlos Villanueva then led off the third with a single to left center. David DeJesus followed with a single to right on a 2-2 pitch. With runners on first and second with no outs, Starlin Castro reached out and pulled a 2-2 pitch into the left field corner. Villanueva and DeJesus scored … 3-2 Cubs. Rizzo walked and the Cubs had runners on first and second again with no outs.

Alfonso Soriano did not do his job and blooped a 0-2 pitch toward second. Solano hauled in the pop fly after the infield fly rule had been called. Schierholtz hit a tailor made double play ball to short. Rizzo helped break up the rhythm and Green’s throw to first was off the mark. Schierholtz reached and the Cubs had first and third with two down. Navarro grounded the first pitch to second for the third out.

Both Villanueva and Nolasco settled in after the third inning.

Carlos Villanueva struck out Nolasco swinging to start the sixth … 14 of 15 sat down by Villanueva after Stanton’s homer in the first. Juan Pierre singled to left, just the second hit off Villanueva on the day. Pierre stole second on the first pitch to Coghlan. Coghlan was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Villanueva pitched to Stanton and it cost him. After getting ahead 0-2, Stanton worked the count back to even then lined a single into left. Pierre scored easily and Stanton took second when Soriano missed the cutoff man. Barney made an excellent catch on a throw from Navarro to keep the ball out of the outfield and Stanton at second. Villanueva intentionally walked Greg Dobbs.

With the game tied at three and runners on first and second with two out, Donovan Solano smoked a 1-0 pitch into left center over Castro’s head. It appeared Castro was late getting his glove up and was charged with an error (changed to a hit in the eighth inning). Stanton scored the go-ahead run. Brantly flied out to right center to end the inning.

Ricky Nolasco retired the Cubs in order in the seventh … 15 in a row set down by Nolasco.

Kameron Loe took over in the seventh and his second pitch left the yard. Nick Green launched a 1-0 pitch from Loe well into the stands in left. Green’s first homer of the season and first in the majors since 2009 gave the Marlins a 5-3 lead. Chris Valaika followed with a double to left center (1-2 pitch). Austin Kearns hit for Nolasco and grounded out to short for the first out. Pierre followed and lined out to left. Coghlan tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

The Cubs had a chance to cut into the Marlins 5-3 lead in the eighth. Castro and Rizzo reached on back-to-back singles with one-out against lefty Mike Dunn. Soriano hit a weak fly to left for the second out. Scott Hairston hit for Schierholtz and broke his bat on a 0-2 pitch. Pierre ran in and caught the ball in shallow left to end the inning.

Giancarlo Stanton put an exclamation point on his afternoon with his second homer of the day in the eighth. Stanton hit a solo shot off Loe to lead off the eighth. Loe retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning.

Dioner Navarro led off the ninth with a solo homer off Steve Cishek that cut the Marlins’ lead to 6-4. But Valbuena, Barney and Julio Borbon went down in order to end the game.

The Cubs open a 10-game homestand with the first of four against the Padres on Monday night. Jeff Samardzija faces Clayton Richard in game one.

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