CHICAGO -- Facing the prospect of a lost weekend to a last-place team, and seeing their most effective pitcher exit with an injury, the 100-year-old confines of Wrigley Field were closing in on the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
The Miami Marlins showed fortitude in rallying to salvage the finale of the three-game series with a 4-3 victory, aided by the home team serving the winning run on Pedro Strop's wild pitch.
They also dodged a scare in learning that right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who left with a strained left hip in the sixth inning, was not seriously hurt and expects to make his next start.
Nobody felt better about all of that than Garrett Jones, whose high throw on a toss to first prompted Alvarez to leap and land awkwardly.
"It was devastating. He's been pitching unbelievable for us. ... For him to have to come out for a play like that, I was upset about it," Jones said. "I felt bad, I was mad -- a lot of emotions. Just wanted him to be OK. He was on my mind."
As retribution would have it, Jones drove in the tying run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left field in the eighth. When former Marlin Chris Coghlan's throw missed the cutoff man, the runners moved up to second and third. Giancarlo Stanton scored the go-ahead run when Strop bounced a 58-footer off catcher John Baker's mask.
"It felt good to get a run in and help the team get a chance to win the ballgame after it could have been a disastrous game," Jones said. "(Alvarez's) OK, and things worked out and eased my mind a little bit."
It was the second time in three starts that Alvarez left early with an injury that initially appeared potentially serious. After being forced out with elbow stiffness May 28 in Washington, he returned to pitch a complete-game shutout against Tampa Bay.
The right-hander pushed his string of scoreless innings to 26, within one-third of an inning of the second-longest streak in franchise history (Luis Aquino, 1994), despite allowing runners in four of the first five innings.
The injury occurred on what should have been a routine play at first base.
After Starlin Castro doubled with one out in the sixth, Luis Valbuena hit a grounder to the right side. Reaching for the bag with his right foot as he came down with Jones' throw, Alvarez hyperextended his left leg, tumbling to the ground in pain.
Alvarez wanted to stay in the game, but after watching him throw one test pitch Marlins manager Mike Redmond immediately signaled for reliever Dan Jennings.
"He looked a little stiff," Redmond said. "It seemed like a no-brainer to get him out of there. We need him for the long haul."
The play at first was initially ruled a hit before being correctly rescored an error on Jones. Nonetheless, Alvarez's scoreless-innings streak ended when Jennings served a two-run triple to the next hitter, Nate Schierholtz.
The Marlins got the runs back in the seventh on two-out, run-scoring singles by J.T. Realmuto and Adeiny Hechavarria.
The Marlins fell behind again when reliever Mike Dunn walked Valbuena with the bases loaded in the seventh. But the Cubs returned the favor in the eighth as the Marlins scored the two runs with only one hit, aided by a walk, hit batter and Coghlan's error.
Alvarez allowed seven hits and the two runs (one earned) in 51/3 innings while throwing 54 of 69 pitches for strikes.
Two of them were the old-school Eephus pitch he occasionally throws, a tantalizing super-slow curve out of the 1940s that was fitting Sunday with the Marlins wearing uniforms of the 1940s Miami Sun Sox as part of the celebration of Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary. Both of them were to his countryman Valbuena, who nearly spun out of his shoes flailing at one of them.
"Joking around during (batting practice,) he told me, 'Don't throw me that Eephus pitch,' and I decided to throw him two today," said Alvarez, who was in good spirits afterward and unconcerned about his hip. "I feel good, thank God."
The sentiment was shared by Jones and the rest of the Marlins on a day that seemed to be heading for a less happy ending.
"We played terrible, not on our game these whole three games," Stanton said. "Losing two in a row and looking to be on the verge of being swept, panic in that situation is very easy to do. It was good that we didn't."
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