Dolis closes out win for Maholm, Cubs

Dolis closes out win for Maholm, Cubs

Dolis closes out win for Maholm, Cubs
CHICAGO -- There was the same drama on the mound in the ninth inning Friday at Wrigley Field as there had been all season for the Cubs. A few of the same erratic pitches, the same scenario with runners on and the go-ahead run at the plate.

The difference this time was it wasn't the same pitcher on the mound. Hours after Cubs manager Dale Sveum relieved Carlos Marmol of his closing duties, right-hander Rafael Dolis pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close the door on a 5-4 Cubs win over the National League-best Dodgers.

Even without Marmol, the Cubs' bullpen still brought its share of drama in the later innings. Lefty reliever James Russell allowed one run in the seventh, and Kerry Wood gave up two more in the eighth in his first outing since returning from the disabled list Thursday.

Dolis entered in the ninth ahead by one and, after getting two quick outs, hit A.J. Ellis.

"I threw a couple pitches outside of the zone and just took a deep breath, and I calmed myself down and regrouped and threw strikes after that," Dolis said through interpreter and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto after the game.

Bobby Abreu followed with a hard line drive in the right-center-field gap, but Cubs right fielder David DeJesus was there on a defensive shift and made the catch to end the game. Abreu, in his first game with the Dodgers, thought he had tied it.

"I hit it good, but there's nothing you can do about that," Abreu said. "I thought the ball would go through the gap and we'd tie the game."

Sveum -- who was ejected after arguing he thought Ellis didn't actually get hit -- said even with a runner on and a veteran like Abreu at the plate, he wasn't worried about the rookie right-hander.

"That's part of the reason we feel like he might be able to handle this role, because so far from what I've seen in Spring Training and in the seventh and eighth innings, he showed a lot of poise in some of the bad times that have happened," said Sveum, who said earlier Dolis and Russell will both close games. "He's obviously has had some good times, too, but he bounces back."

Dolis saved another win for left-hander Paul Maholm -- his third straight -- and the Cubs got key hitting in the sixth and seventh innings that helped stave off the Dodgers' late rally. Joe Mather hit the Cubs' first pinch-hit home run of the season in the sixth and, in the seventh, Alfonso Soriano -- who finished 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs -- drove in the run that proved to be the difference.

"It really wound up being bigger than it was at the time," Mather said of his homer. "But the biggest thing in that game was the bottom of the seventh inning."

DeJesus went 3-for-4 and finished a home run shy of the cycle to give early support for Maholm, who tossed six innings of one-run ball and held the Dodgers to only three hits. The first was a third-inning solo home run by Jerry Hairston -- who finished a double shy of the cycle -- while the last almost ended Maholm's afternoon.

Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon hit a comebacker to Maholm with one out in the sixth that hit the lefty on the inside of his right knee. Maholm went down in pain, but he stayed in the game and got Mark Ellis to ground out and Matt Kemp to look at strike three to end the inning.

"Obviously, it's sore, but it's good," Maholm said. "It squared me up pretty good, but luckily I got to finish the inning."

Friday's victory improved Maholm to 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA and a .179 batting average against in his last three starts. Prior to the three-game winning streak, the left-hander hadn't won since last July, going 0-7 with a 7.03 ERA in that stretch. According to STATS, Inc., Maholm is the first Major League starter to post a three-game winning streak following a winless stretch of nine or more starts since Houston's Brett Myers did so last season.

"I would say executing pitches, not missing. You miss a few pitches, but I think Hairston is the only one that took advantage of it. It was kind of right down the middle," Maholm said of the difference in his last three starts. "Being aggressive, mixing pitches, mixing location. Just more of a confidence and a comfort factor."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.