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CHICAGO (AP) – Carlos Marmol blew a save opportunity Saturday for the ninth time, tops in the National League. And this time it was a familiar face coming up with the big blow.
Marmol yielded a go-ahead grand slam to former teammate Derrek Lee, who connected with two out in the ninth inning to send the Chicago Cubs to a 7-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Lee’s shot to left through the rain at Wrigley Field came on a 1-1 delivery from Marmol, who gave up a single and three walks in the inning.
“Marm just had a bad day. We’ve got to get that figured out with him,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “He’s got to be more consistent. He’s been throwing the ball extremely well, but today was not one of those days.”
Marmol had tossed a scoreless inning in each of his previous five appearances. But the right-hander dropped to 0-2 with six saves in nine opportunities and an ugly 8.64 ERA in nine games against the Pirates this season.
“He hit a good pitch. He took advantage of my mistake and that’s what happens when you hang a pitch,” Marmol said. “You go out there and compete. What happens, happens. I tried to do my best and it didn’t work out.”
The game was delayed for 91 minutes in the seventh inning due to rain, and Marmol said the field was affected.
“It was a little tough for me. I don’t make excuses, but (the mound) was a little slippery,” he said.
The blown save wasted a good outing by Casey Coleman, who limited the Pirates to two runs, one earned, and six hits in six innings.
Coleman entered 0-4 with an 11.44 ERA in six outings this season at Wrigley Field and his struggles continued in the first inning. Alex Presley doubled with one out and moved up on Geovany Soto’s passed ball. Andrew McCutchen then walked and Lee singled in Presley.
“We talked before the game about him getting better each time and being consistent. He threw the ball extremely well,” Quade said. “I was glad to get him out in a position to win the game. We didn’t get it done for him, but he pitched great and gave us a chance to win. That’s all you can ask.”
Batting cleanup, Lee had three hits after coming off the disabled list before the game. He had been sidelined since Aug. 10 with a broken bone in his left wrist, which occurred when he was hit by Marmol on Aug. 3.
“He was struggling with his command a little bit, so I was going to try to be as patient as possible,” Lee said. “Got the count 1-1 and just kind of got the pitch I was looking for.”
Since being traded to Pittsburgh from Baltimore on July 30, all of Lee’s home runs (three) and RBIs (eight) have come against Chicago.
“You make a mistake and he’ll still make you pay,” Quade said.
Chris Resop (5-4) threw two scoreless innings in relief and Joel Hanrahan got three outs for his 34th save.
Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano matched his season high with four RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh. Aramis Ramirez reached base four times and scored three runs, and Carlos Pena reached in all five of his plate appearances.
The Cubs stranded runners in each of the first five innings and went 2 for 15 with men in scoring position. They’ve hit just .176 in those situations since the beginning of August, but Soriano provided some clutch hitting.
Soriano hit a sacrifice fly in the third and a tying RBI single in the fifth. Marlon Byrd also had a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the fifth, giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
The Pirates drew even against Kerry Wood in the seventh when former Cub Ronny Cedeno tripled to right-center and scored on pinch-hitter Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly.
McCutchen has reached base in his last 30 games against the Cubs.
Ramirez singled and Pena walked to start Chicago’s seventh-inning rally. Both runners scored when Soriano laced a double into the left-field corner. The rain fell heavier through the inning and after Byrd was hit by a pitch, the umpires called for the field to be covered.
NOTES: Resurgent RHP Randy Wells will start for the Cubs in Sunday’s series finale. Wells has won his last four starts and is coming off a two-hit shutout of San Francisco. RHP Charlie Morton goes for the Pirates.
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