(AP) – The Chicago Cubs have lost three games in a row, and seven of their last 10. It’s getting to the point of the season where the Cubs could permanently fade from the NL Central race if hey don’t turn things around.
The threat of rain kept the Florida Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco from adding to his recent success on the road. It’s doubtful, though, the right-hander is too disappointed to return home.
While he hasn’t earned many wins there lately, Nolasco has pitched well in each of his five home starts and will try to help his team return to the top of the NL East by beating the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
Nolasco was 9-1 with a 3.62 ERA in his previous 11 road starts heading into Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets, but that was postponed after forecasts called for more rain. That means the right-hander will instead open up a five-game homestand.
“Yesterday it was raining and we played,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “Today it’s not raining and we don’t play.”
The Marlins (24-16) return to Sun Life Stadium just one-half game behind Philadelphia in the division but have dropped five of seven at home. Nolasco (3-0, 3.02 ERA), though, is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA in Florida this season.
He’s also 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs – the team that selected him in the 2001 draft – and has allowed one run over seven innings in each of his two matchups in Florida. The Marlins, who acquired Nolasco in December 2005, were briefly in first place on April 26.
This time, he’ll try to help Florida regain that spot against a Chicago team that’s a season-worst six games below .500 and has dropped six of eight. Manager Mike Quade expressed frustration with his team after it blew a four-run lead in Monday’s 7-4 loss at Cincinnati on Monday.
A closed-door meeting didn’t seem to work for the Cubs as they committed four errors and gave away two more leads in a 7-5 defeat the next evening.
Carlos Pena put his team ahead 3-0 with his second homer in as many games and fifth in 12 contests. After the Reds rallied to tie, Tony Campana scored a run and drove in another during his first major league appearance.
The Cubs (17-23) lost that lead on reliever Kerry Wood’s throwing error and all seven runs they gave up were unearned.
“I guess Knute Rockne I’m not,” Quade said. “It’s the multitude of them that’s killing us right now. And it’s costing us. It’s cost us a lot of ballgames the last week or so. It’s costing me a lot of sleep, too.”
Chicago had better luck during its last trip to Florida and Ryan Dempster (2-4, 6.71) helped. The right-hander scattered four hits over seven innings Sept. 17 and started the Cubs toward a sweep of the three-game series.
Dempster, who played his first four-plus seasons in Florida, was 1-3 with a 9.58 ERA in April but has a 2.25 ERA in his three starts this month. He earned his first win in nearly a month Friday when he gave up two runs over six innings to San Francisco.
Dempster might have a chance to earn another victory as he’s 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in four career starts against his former team.
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