Florida Marlins' Jorge Cantu (3) is called out at third on Jeremy Hermida's bunt by Chicago Cubs' Aramis Ramirez in the eighth inning of a baseball game on Friday.
If the Cubs are going to win the NL Central, they'll need Carlos Marmol.
The Cubs' eighth-inning reliever reverted to some bad form Friday night, and it cost the Cubs big time in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.
Marmol came into the game with the score tied at 2-2, but he exited after walking two, hitting a batter and giving up an RBI single.
Sean Marshall replaced Marmol, but the usually dependable lefty allowed a pinch double to Wes Helms to score another 2, and the Cubs lost the opener of a 10-game road trip.
Marmol had been riding something of a hot streak, with 81/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
But the walks were a factor again, as they've been all year for Marmol. In 50 innings, he's walked 46 and hit nine.
"He has walked a lot of people this year," Cubs manager Lou Piniella told reporters. "Because he's so talented, he has gotten out of it, but sooner or later it's going to bite you."
The Cubs got a decent performance by starting pitcher Rich Harden. Harden allowed an RBI double to pitcher Chris Volstad in the second and a long homer to Jorge Cantu with two outs in the third.
Harden tied his single-game best with 11 strikeouts, but his pitch count of 99 forced him out of the game after 5 innings.
Volstad did not allow a baserunner until Aramis Ramirez led off the fifth with a single. Milton Bradley followed with a single, but Jake Fox grounded into a 5-3 double play, and Mike Fontenot struck out to end the inning.
The Cubs tied the game in the seventh. Ramirez singled to right with one out. After Bradley was called out on strikes, Fox launched a homer to left-center, his seventh of the season.
Aaron Heilman worked a perfect seventh for the Cubs out of the bullpen before Marmol came on in the eighth and walked Cantu and Dan Uggla to start things.
Marlins catcher John Baker hit a two-out RBI single to break the tie, and after Marmol hit pinch hitter Ross Gload, Marshall gave up Helms' double off the wall in left.
Piniella apparently was unhappy with an on-field promotion, too. In reference to the supposed billy goat curse on the Cubs, the Marlins paraded a goat onto the field.
"Tasteless," Piniella told the media. "Every time we come here, they do some kind of gimmick. I don't know who thinks them up. I mean, when they come to Chicago, we don't fry marlin."
Bruce Miles' game tracker
Marlins 5, Cubs 2
Double-edged: Rich Harden struck out a career-best 11 Marlins, but he also ran his pitch count to 99 in 5 innings, causing an early exit.
Fox trotting: Jake Fox tied the game at 2-2 with a 2-run homer in the seventh inning. In 103 at-bats this season, Fox has 7 homers and 26 RBI.
Inheritance tax: Reliever Sean Marshall allowed two of three inherited runners to score in the eighth. Marshall entered the game tied for first in the NL by allowing only 10 percent (3 of 30) inherited runners to score.