Baseball / Sports

Cubs hand Marlins second straight home series loss

MIAMI -- A starter striking out 11 is noteworthy regardless of the opponent, but that achievement loses some value when it comes against the Miami Marlins.

Jake Arrieta pitched the Chicago Cubs to a series-clinching 6-1 win Wednesday, totaling 11 strikeouts over seven innings at Marlins Park. No other National League team has more 11-plus strikeout games versus opposing starters than the Marlins, who dropped four of six in the season series to the 30-40 Cubs.

The one positive Wednesday was Giancarlo Stanton's health report. Stanton in the first inning sustained a bruised left wrist when he crashed into the wall trying to reel in a Chris Coghlan double. He stayed in the game and homered in his first at-bat, but exited in the seventh.

"I saw him kind of grimace in his first at-bat, but then he hit the home run and I wasn't too concerned," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "As the game went along it looked like maybe it continue to get sore on him. At that point being down 5-1, I just wanted to make sure we got him out of there. He wanted to stay in, but I was thinking about tomorrow and the next day . . . We need this guy healthy for the long haul."

Stanton, who is leading the National League with 20 homers and 57 RBI, expects to be in Thursday's lineup.

After the Stanton homer, the Marlins finished the game 4 for their last 28, including 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Starting with a Marcell Ozuna strikeout in the second, 10 of Arrieta's 11 came during a 16-hitter span. Seven times this season the Marlins have struck out at least 14 times in a game, and three of those outings have come against the Cubs.

The Marlins this week faced the same three Cubs starters that pitched against them June 5-7 in Chicago. Jason Hammel, Jeff Samardzija and Arrieta in the six games logged a combined 1.38 ERA and struck out 51 in 39 innings. Hammel allowed four of the six earned runs that trio allowed in Monday's series opener.

Hitting second for the second straight game, Adeiny Hechavarria was the lone Marlin with multiple hits Wednesday. He is 6 for his last 9 and riding a seven-game hitting streak during which he's batting .448 (13-for-29).

Stanton's blast made it a 1-1 game in the first and starter Nathan Eovaldi held the Cubs in check until unraveling in the sixth. Starlin Castro's second RBI-double of the game broke the stalemate and two batters later Nate Schierholtz belted an 86-mph, 2-1 slider off the facing of the second deck in right for a three-run homer.

Four of the Cubs' nine hits off Eovaldi came during the four-run sixth.

"This has been a common theme for our starting pitcher, not being able to get through that sixth inning or sometimes that fifth inning, or giving up the big number," Redmond said. "You can survive the one runs, but the big innings are what kill you and that did today for sure."

Fresh off returning from his native Texas, where his wife gave birth to the couple's first child, Eovaldi got through the third through fifth innings on 27 pitches. He threw 25 in the sixth.

"I was able to get in a nice groove and then that sixth inning came along and I left too many pitches middle," Eovaldi said. "The slider I felt was kind of flat. I didn't feel it had that good depth to it. I wasn't able to bear down and make the pitches when I needed to."

Since beating the Braves on April 30, Eovaldi's ERA has spiked from 2.58 to 3.95. He is winless with a 5.47 ERA, with 31 hits, two walks and 17 strikeouts over his last four outings (26 1/3 innings). Most of that damage (11 runs, 19 hits) has come during his two starts this homestand.

After the game, the Marlins optioned left-hander Dan Jennings to Triple-A New Orleans and catcher J.T. Realmuto to Double-A Jacksonville. Before Thursday's game, they'll activate catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the 15-day disabled list and select the contract of right-hander Kevin Gregg.

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