Four-Run 5th Inning lifts Marlins over Cubs


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Four-Run 5th Inning lifts Marlins over Cubs

MIAMI -- Entering the game with the lowest ERA (1.97) of any Chicago Cubs starting pitcher since the beginning of May, John Lackey looked primed to rebound from a loss in his previous start through the first three innings of his outing against the Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon. However, a two-run fourth and a four-run fifth for Miami quickly put an end to any hopes of a W on the day for Lackey and, for that matter, the Cubs.

Heading into the bottom of the fourth with a 4-1 lead, the Cubs, who have been fantastic at maintaining leads all season long, appeared to be in total control, especially with the proven veteran Lackey on the mound. But a two-run home run by Marlins first baseman Justin Bour in the fourth made the Cubs’ lead far less comfortable, and a two-run double by the beastly first baseman in the following inning made the lead disappear.

Bour, who was 2-3 with three RBI and a run on Saturday, was not the only Marlins hitter to take part in the shellacking of Chicago in the bottom of the fifth. The damage to the Cubs began when shortstop Addison Russell committed a throwing error that enabled center fielder Ichiro Suzuki to advance to second on a leadoff infield single. Third baseman Martin Prado capitalized off of the error by doubling to left and scoring Ichiro, one of two runs for the veteran outfielder in the game.

Following a walk of left fielder Christian Yelich, slumping right fielder Giancarlo Stanton garnered a hit that scored Prado and chased Lackey from the game. Young reliever Gerardo Concepcion fared no better than Lackey upon entering in his wake, giving up the two-run double to Bour and then allowing an additional run to score on a sacrifice fly. The inning placed the Cubs into a major hole and took a major toll on Lackey’s ERA, as all four runs were charged to his name.

While Russell’s defensive mistake ended up proving costly, ironically enough, his third-inning offensive triumph was the only reason for the Cubs obtaining that fairly sizable lead in the first place. With a bomb to left-center, Russell scored three runs and gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead in the top half of the third. The homer was the second of the game given up by Marlins starter Paul Clemens (no relation to Roger), who was also victimized by way of the long ball when Cubs catcher Miguel Montero hit a homer to right in the top of the second.

The Marlins jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first, with Yelich bringing Ichiro home on a sacrifice fly, and after regaining the lead in the fifth, Miami held onto its lead far more tightly. The score remained 7-4 in favor of the Marlins until Stanton earned his second hit of the game in the bottom the seventh, scoring two runs with a double in the gap between left and center.

Russell scored his second run of the day on a groundout by pinch hitter Chris Coghlan in the bottom of the eighth to cut Chicago’s deficit to four runs, and a double off the bat of left fielder Willson Contreras in the ensuing inning cut it to three runs. The Marlins were able to keep the Cubs at bay, though, winning the game by a final tally of 9-6.

Lackey, who earned the loss for his troubles to move to 7-4 on the season, became the first pitcher for the Cubs to give up seven earned runs in a start since last August, and his ERA ballooned to 3.29 as a result. Clemens earned the win for the Marlins, the first of the season for the young righty, and Miami closer A.J. Ramos earned the save, his 24th of the year.

The finale of the four-game affair will take place tomorrow afternoon, as Jason Hammel will take the mound for the Cubs (48-25), who will look to avoid dropping three out of four to the Marlins (40-35). The North Siders have played their worst baseball of the season over the course of the past six days, dropping five out of six games, and, with Marlins ace Jose Fernandez stepping onto the rubber tomorrow, snapping out of the mini-slump will be a tall task indeed.

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