CHICAGO (AP) — If the Miami Marlins hope to return to the postseason this year for the first time in more than a decade, a wild series finale against the Chicago Cubs could be a good teaching tool.
Matt Szczur scored the winning run on A.J. Ramos’ wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday, capping a three-run rally that gave the Cubs a 5-4 victory and a three-game sweep.
Chicago tied it when Ramos (1-1) walked Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded and two outs.
“I didn’t have command over anything. Fastball was flying out, changeup was out of the zone, slider was hit-and-miss. It was pretty rough,” Ramos said after his second blown save in 33 chances this season.
The comeback gave the season series to the Cubs, but Miami manager Don Mattingly hopes his club bounces back quickly.
“These are no fun,” he said, “but I think they’re part of what we’re becoming and are going to be something to handle and learn from and move on from.
“It’s painful, but it’s still a game,” he added.
Jeff Mathis hit a two-run homer for Miami. Christian Yelich also connected and drove in two runs. Tom Koehler tossed six strong innings to help the Marlins take a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Chicago cut it to 4-2 when Dexter Fowler scored on Fernando Rodney’s wild pitch.
Miguel Montero started the decisive rally with a leadoff double in the ninth and went to third on a single by Javier Baez. Szczur was pinch-hitting when he drew a walk from Ramos that loaded the bases. Fowler made it 3-2 with a sacrifice fly, and all the runners advanced.
Kris Bryant struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch for the second out, and Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked to load the bases again. The strategy backfired when Ramos, who threw just 13 strikes in 35 pitches, walked Zobrist and then unloaded a game-ending wild pitch with Willson Contreras at the plate.
“My job was to get Zobrist out there and I just didn’t execute,” Ramos said. “I was trying to go for the strikeout or get some weak contact. But I couldn’t get it in the zone where I wanted to.
“It was just one of those days, I guess.”
Mathis’ drive snapped a 1-all tie in the seventh and was just the second of the season for the backup catcher.
Justin Grimm (1-0) pitched the ninth inning for the win. Chicago has won seven of eight.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon also credited those among the Wrigley Field crowd of 41,147 who stayed until the end.
“They had so much energy,” he said. “It was a long day and it was hot out there and we have to get on the road. All those different mental factors, and our fans picked us up.”
Koehler gave up five hits and one run while striking out seven.
Cubs starter John Lackey allowed seven hits and three runs in seven innings while striking out eight.
“I think we’ve got a good group,” Lackey said. “A group that keeps fighting.”
Yelich, who was 3 for 4, has hit safely in all 12 career games he has played at Wrigley Field. He is 21 for 51 in those games for a .412 batting average.
Ichiro Suzuki lined out softly to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the seventh against Lackey. Suzuki remained at 2,998 career hits, two shy of becoming the 30th player to reach 3,000.
Marlins 1B Justin Bour, out since July 3 with a right ankle sprain, is expected to return Friday at Colorado.
Following a day off, Marlins RHP David Phelps (5-5, 2.65 ERA) makes his first start of the season Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Colorado. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (7-7, 5.51) goes for the Rockies.
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