CHICAGO — Carlos Marmol was back on the mound trying to close this one out, and once again, he came up short. The Cubs did not.
Ryan Dempster pitched four-hit ball over eight scoreless innings, and Chicago overcame another shaky performance by its closer to beat Florida 2-1 Friday, snapping the Marlins’ season-high, six-game winning streak.
Dempster (7-6) struck out nine without a walk in probably his best outing of the season as the Cubs won for the third time in nine games, but the focus again centered on Marmol.
“We need him,” manager Mike Quade said. “When you talk about the bullpen, he’s a pretty big part.”
Right now, that part isn’t working.
After the closer’s ninth-inning meltdown Thursday, Quade had said he wasn’t sure he would use Marmol in a save situation, but he did after talking to the pitcher, coaches and management before Friday’s game.
That backfired when they turned to Marmol in the ninth Friday and he again didn’t make it out of the inning. Sean Marshall got out of the jam and will close for the next few days.
Marmol came in to boos on the heels of a miserable performance in which he walked four of the five batters he faced and failed to record an out. The Marlins scored six in the ninth to win that one 6-3 and they nearly pulled off another comeback Friday.
Marmol’s latest troubles began when he walked Omar Infante on four pitches to start the inning.
He caught a break with one out when center fielder Marlon Byrd threw out Hanley Ramirez trying to stretch a single into a double.
“The guy made a helluva throw,” Marlins interim manager Jack McKeon said.
Quade would have lifted Marmol then had Ramirez not been thrown out. Instead, he watched as Logan Morrison lined an RBI single to right, cutting Florida’s deficit to 2-1.
Marshall relieved Marmol and struck out Mike Stanton to end the game, giving him two saves in four chances.
“We’re trying to figure out things,” Marmol said. “Hopefully, when I get back, I’ll be the old Marmol.”
He insisted the problems are mechanical, not mental, and that he still has his confidence. What he doesn’t have is his control or patience from the fan base.
“It’s not as easy as people (think),” he said. “It’s hard. When you’re not playing, you’re struggling, you want to do the best — especially in Chicago. I hate when the fans boo me. I hate it. I don’t think any players want to feel that way.”
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when Infante misplayed Alfonso Soriano’s pop fly to second base, allowing Carlos Pena and Byrd to score.
That was just enough for Dempster and the Cubs.
“It was a good way to bounce back after yesterday, get us back on the right track,” the veteran right-hander said.
Ricky Nolasco (6-6) pitched about as well as Dempster but took a tough loss.
Nolasco allowed two unearned runs and seven hits, and struck out seven and walked one in seven innings. It was another strong performance following his complete-game win over Houston on Saturday. He also doubled off the wall with two outs in the third, but the Marlins couldn’t do much against Dempster.
Nolasco ran into trouble in the fourth when Pena singled with one out and Byrd doubled, but he struck out Geovany Soto and should have gotten out of the inning when Soriano popped up.
Infante raced out toward right field, and slowed as Stanton came in. The ball appeared to tip his glove and fell in for an error, allowing both runners to score.
“It was just unfortunate,” Nolasco said. “It’s not going to happen very often, especially Omar how good he is. It’s just one of those things that you can’t put any blame on it.”
McKeon said it was an easy play for Stanton and he should have made that catch.
“Hell, the right fielder has got to come in,” McKeon said. “He’s standing alongside of him. He’s got to take charge.”
NOTES: The Cubs agreed to a minor league deal with veteran pitcher Dave Bush. … Cubs first base coach Bob Dernier missed the game to attend his son’s wedding in Kansas City. He is expected back Sunday. Dave Keller, special assistant to Quade, filled in. … Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the sixth.
Prado returns to Braves
ATLANTA — Martin Prado returned from the disabled list Friday and started at third base for the Atlanta Braves against Washington on Friday night.
Prado played eight games in his minor league rehabilitation and missed five weeks with a staph infection in his right calf.
Prado, a fill-in All-Star starter at second base last season before moving to third base, opened this season as the starting left fielder. He is expected to fill in at third base for at least two weeks as Chipper Jones recovers from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.
Prado, who hit second against the Nationals, said he wasn’t expecting to immediately return to top form.
“It’s probably going to take a couple games, but I’m happy I can do everything and start playing,” Prado said.
Jones said he had “that heavy leg feeling” on Friday after a workout that included 10 40-yard sprints. He said he hopes to be ready the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 24.
Jones said his workout was a stiff test so soon after his surgery.
“I’m feeling it now,” he said. “But I want to know what I can do. … I was pleasantly surprised with all but about my first two or three 40s.”
Prado is hitting .277 with eight homers and 33 RBIs.
Meanwhile, right-hander Peter Moylan played catch Thursday for the first time since having surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back in May. Moylan said he hopes to return in 4 to 6 weeks.
The Braves optioned infielder Brandon Hicks to Triple-A Gwinnett.