Buehrle's return spoiled as Marlins drop series

Buehrle's return spoiled as Marlins drop series

Buehrle's return spoiled as Marlins drop series
CHICAGO -- Returning to Chicago didn't go as well as Mark Buehrle and the Marlins had anticipated.

Buehrle, the longtime White Sox ace, gave up four runs in the fifth inning, and he was upstaged by Cubs lefty Paul Maholm.

Maholm gave up one run in eight innings, while Alfonso Soriano homered in the Cubs' 4-2 win in front of 32,741 on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Buehrle (9-9) experienced his shortest outing since working five innings on June 12 at Boston. The left-hander had given up three earned runs in 28 2/3 innings over his last four starts.

"It was just one of those games where you're not going to have your stuff," Buehrle said. "I have to turn the page and get ready for my next start."

The veteran left-hander is now 6-5 in his career against the Cubs, with Thursday's loss being his first to Chicago since 2007. He had won three straight while he was playing Interleague games for the White Sox.

"Today, it seemed like it was a close game for the first four innings, and then they scored some runs, and the crowd was kind of into it a little bit," Buehrle said.

Popular during his days with the White Sox, the veteran left-hander experienced some cheers and boos.

"Normal, few cheers, a few boos," he said. "A couple of times when I'd come out to get loose, a few people would be cheering. When they announced my name, it seemed like it was half and half, nothing crazy. Nothing I wouldn't have expected."

But on a day the Marlins struggled at the plate, Buehrle had a string of four straight wins snapped. Miami dropped two of three at Wrigley and is now 44-48.

Since the All-Star break, the Marlins are 3-4, and the club continues to be mentioned heavily in trade speculation. On Wednesday, a report came out that Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell could be dealt to the Red Sox for Carl Crawford.

Any momentum on that trade appears to have died down.

Manager Ozzie Guillen says the players have to perform, but he hasn't heard anything on the trade front.

"I'm not hearing anything about it," the manager said. "We talk everyday about the ballclub. Today we were sitting here a little while, and we never even mentioned it. All the rumors about Boston and stuff, that don't come from here. But that's up to them.

"Players make moves. If we're not playing well, this is a business. If they believe we're not a good enough ballclub to compete this season, they have to do what they have to do."

Even though the Marlins were held to one run on five hits in eight innings by Maholm, Guillen felt the team hit the ball hard. They did. Jose Reyes was robbed of extra bases in the eighth inning by Reed Johnson in right field. And in the sixth inning, Reyes stung a liner but to short, but was robbed by Starlin Castro, who made a nice leaping grab.

"I am happy with the way we swung the bat," Guillen said. "We made good contact. We have to go out there and play better, pitch better. The Cubs have been playing pretty good baseball the past two weeks. We're another victim to them. They played very good baseball."

A four-run seventh inning doomed the Marlins in Wednesday's 5-1 loss that was postponed due to rain in the top of the eighth inning. On Thursday, the Cubs cashed in with a four-run fifth inning.

Soriano led off the frame by connecting on his 18th home run of the season, and his 150th since joining the Cubs.

"Any time you're playing here and the wind is blowing, it feels like the wall is not too far away from you," Buehrle said. "Any fly ball has a chance to do something. Obviously, I'm trying to be a ground-ball pitcher and get ground balls. That wasn't the case. They got a lot of fly balls. Chalk it up as a tough one, and you move on to the next one."

The Cubs weren't done in the fifth. Jeff Baker singled and Geovany Soto walked. Darwin Barney's single to right loaded the bases. Luis Valbuena lifted a sacrifice fly to center to make it 2-0. Buehrle was one strike away from getting out of the jam, but Johnson ripped a two-run single to left on a 1-2 pitch.

Chicago was close to scoring more, but Castro's lined shot to left was caught in the ivy by Austin Kearns.

Given a four-run lead, Maholm was able to work deep into the game.

"With Buehrle, you watch him over his career, you work fast, you mix speeds, you keep the ball down, and you put your defense to work and they make plays," Maholm said. "I'm all about trying to get it over with quick."

Miami pushed across a run in the sixth inning off Maholm. Donovan Solano delivered a pinch-hit triple, and he scored on Emilio Bonifacio's hard grounder that kicked off Maholm to Barney at second base.

The Marlins turned a brilliant, but not your typical, double play to get out of the fourth inning. Johnson doubled down the third-base line to open the inning, and he was moved to third on Castro's sacrifice bunt.

With the infield in, Anthony Rizzo grounded hard to second. Infante had Johnson caught up at third and threw the ball up. The Marlins got Johnson out in the rundown. Jose Reyes made a terrific heads-up play, catching Rizzo rounding second. Infante snuck in behind Rizzo, collected Reyes' throw, and applied the tag to complete a 4-2-5-6-4 double play.

It was one of the few bright spots in a rough series.

"They're fighting," Guillen said. "I'll talk to you guys if we're not fighting. We are fighting, we just got beat."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.