Bryant scores late as Cubs edge Marlins

by - Senior Writer -
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant scored two pivotal runs on Tuesday night. (Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant scored two pivotal runs on Tuesday night. (Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — Minor-league call-ups made a world of difference, both in positive and negative ways, for the Chicago Cubs in their contest versus the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

Jen Ho-Tseng, who was one such call-up, filled in for an ailing Yu Darvish on the mound and produced a subpar starting performance. However, riding a two-run outing from star third baseman Kris Bryant, the Cubs (18-15) came up with eight hits and scored a critical eighth-inning run to collect a hard-fought 4-3 win against the Marlins (13-22).

Ho-Tseng did not last very long on the mound, pitching just two innings before being pinch-hit for in the bottom of the second. Ho-Tseng gave up three runs in the opening frame, despite forcing the Marlins into two quick outs. First, Marlins first baseman Justin Bour drilled his seventh home run of the season by taking a fastball well over the wall in left for a two-run bomb. Two Miami doubles followed, with the second one serving as an RBI double for left fielder Derek Dietrich.

The Cubs answered with a two-out rally of their own in the second inning. With catcher Victor Caratini on first, Cubs center fielder Ian Happ singled into right field with two outs, placing runners on the corners.

Then, David Bote, who was only just called up for the second time this season, was selected to pinch-hit for Ho-Tseng, which paid dividends for Chicago. Bote hit a double in his first career MLB at-bat last month, and, on Tuesday, he cracked another critical double, scoring a pair of runs on a two-bagger to left for his first two big-league RBI.

The game then transitioned into a pitching battle. Cubs reliever Rob Zastryzny, another new addition to Chicago's 25-man roster, pitched two shutout innings to keep the Marlins at bay, and Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena, who was taken to task by the Cubs on Opening Day, settled down and pitched well in the third, fourth and fifth frames.

During that stretch, the only drama came in the form of an inane bench-clearing confrontation that culminated in tickling. In the top of the fourth, Dietrich attempted to score from second on a single to right, but Ben Zobrist of Chicago gunned him down at the plate quite easily. Caratini was able to apply the tag while standing up but not without Dietrich colliding with him in an attempt at dislodging the ball from his mitt.

While the collision did nothing more than knock Caratini back a few feet, the fill-in backstop took umbrage at the display of gamesmanship from Dietrich and confronted him about it. Dietrich attempted to prevent the confrontation from taking place by tipping his batting helmet at Caratini in a display of respect, but the face-to-face spat came to fruition anyway.

For some inexplicable reason, the dugouts and bullpens emptied as players from both clubs were quick to join in on the confrontation, and the only memorable instance from the skirmish came in the form of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant jokingly tickling former Cubs and current Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro, Bryant's former teammate.

The tickling incident proved to be only the beginning of Bryant's pivotal night for the Cubs, as the former MVP scored the game-tying run in the sixth and the game-winning run in the eighth.

After being hit by a pitch from Urena to lead off the bottom half of the sixth, Bryant then advanced to third on a single to right by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Thereafter, Caratini collected an RBI on a fielder's choice groundout to short that scored Bryant. Urena was pulled soon afterward, having given up three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings pitched.

Déjà vu struck the Marlins in the eighth, as Bryant scored on yet another fielder's choice grounder from Caratini, who doubled his season RBI total from two to four on the evening. Bryant walked to start the inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch and third base on a grounder. Castro made an admirable throw home on the RBI groundout from Caratini, but Bryant slid in before the tag could be applied, putting the Cubs up 4-3.

After blowing his most recent save attempt, Cubs closer Brandon Morrow got back on the snide with a quick three up, three down save in the ninth, and the Cubs won their second consecutive contest over the Miami Marlins, which gave Morrow his eighth save of the season. Cubs reliever Carl Edwards, Jr., tallied the win to become 1-0 on the year, and Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough fell to 0-2 with a loss.

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