Cubs drop another game to Marlins, but at least Milwaukee lost, too.
Send the champagne to Cincy.
Florida beat the Cubs 7-4 on Wednesday night in front of a Dolphin Stadium crowd of 19,051, meaning the earliest the Cubs can clinch a National League Central Division title — if they are able to at all — and enjoy a champagne celebration would be on Friday in Cincinnati.
The Cubs have lost two in a row to the Marlins, but got a break Wednesday night when St. Louis beat Milwaukee. That lowered the Cubs’ magic number to three with four games left to play. Any combination of Cubs wins and Brewers’ losses totaling three clinches the crown for the North Siders.
The Marlins are getting a kick out of this. They didn’t want the Cubs celebrating in Miami.
“I cannot stand Cub fans,” Marlins reliever and winning pitcher Logan Kensing said. “They were passionate at my first start at Wrigley (in 2004). It’s the goat, right?”
“They’re looking to roll over us, and we’re not doing it,” Marlins reliever Lee Gardner added. “They came here for a couple of easy wins and they didn’t get them.”
But the Cubs aren’t feeling too bad about it all.
“We feel fine,” losing pitcher Jason Marquis said. “Our fate is still in our hands. We’re still in the lead. Maybe we can get help with the Brewers. We’re in a positive frame of mind.”
Cubs manager Lou Piniella is also positive, saying: “We’ll beat these guys (today) and go from there.”
He said the Cubs entered the series with three “mulligans” in the form of a three-game lead.
“I like to keep my last mulligan on course for the 18th hole,” Piniella said.
The Cubs have dropped nine straight to the Marlins, a streak that started on April 26, 2006.
While the past two games have seen no rain or delays, the weather in Miami leading up to game time was wet enough to cancel batting and fielding practice.
“This team has our number,” Piniella said. “They beat us five in a row since I’ve been here. We don’t seem to pitch well against them. We don’t score as many runs; that’s obvious. They feel nice and comfortable against the Cubbies.
“We had a day off (Monday). We traveled. We haven’t been on the field (to practice) for three days because of this damn rain in Florida. And I’m a native of Florida. When the hell are we getting that Florida sunshine? We need some sunshine. We need to get on the field a bit. But that’s not an excuse.”
Marquis, who gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh on Friday, gave up four more in the first two innings Wednesday night. He was able to settle down the next two innings while the Cubs caught up to tie it at 4-4, but Matt Treanor singled home Todd Linden to put the Marlins ahead 5-4 in the fifth. Marquis (12-8) suffered his first loss since Aug. 26.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run shot off Carlos Marmol in the seventh to give the Marlins a little breathing room with a 7-4 advantage. It snapped a 23 2/3-innings scoreless streak for Marmol.
The Cubs offense, which mustered just two runs on three hits against Dontrelle Willis and two relievers Tuesday, teed off on rookie Daniel Barone on Wednesday with four runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Jacque Jones tagged Barone for a two-run single, Derrek Lee hit a solo homer and Mark DeRosa tripled off of him.