Cubs fall after Marmol's shaky ninth inning

Cubs fall after Marmol's shaky ninth inning

Cubs fall after Marmol's shaky ninth inning
CHICAGO -- Carlos Marmol had given up one earned run in August, but the National League West-leading Giants were able to double that in one inning.

Angel Pagan hit a tie-breaking RBI single with one out in the ninth inning to power the Giants to a 7-5 victory over Marmol and the Cubs Sunday and take the series.

"You're not going to be perfect all year long," Marmol said. "A couple walks, a couple base hits. Tomorrow's a new day. I'll try to get the save tomorrow. I call it a bad day today."

With the game tied at 5 in the ninth, Xavier Nady walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Gregor Blanco. Marmol then struck out Brandon Belt on three pitches, and Blanco stole second during Brandon Crawford's at-bat. But Crawford walked, and Pagan smacked a single to center. Marco Scutaro followed with another RBI single.

Marmol, who lost the closer's job earlier this year, had converted his last 16 save opportunities. Sunday was not a save situation.

"Since he's been back in the closer's role, he's been as good as anybody in baseball, if not the best in that stretch," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It's not going to be perfect all the time, and today didn't go his way, or our way, too. That's a first-place team battling, great at-bats, and putting some hits together, a leadoff walk. That's a championship first-place club."

The Giants' win spoiled Alfonso Soriano's day. He joined an elite group when he hit his 25th home run in the fifth to become the 10th player with at least four 25-home run seasons with the Cubs. Soriano joins Sammy Sosa, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Aramis Ramirez, Ryne Sandberg, Hank Sauer, Bill Nicholson, and Hack Wilson.

"I just work hard to be a consistent player," Soriano said. "I love what I do, and work hard every day to be consistent. The most important thing is to try to help the team win. If I put up good numbers, I can help the team win."

When he walked out of the trainer's room, Soriano was limping. That's because he'd just received more treatment for his left knee, a ritual that requires him to be at the ballpark about two to three hours before everyone else. It's not a big deal, he said.

"I play this game with my heart," Soriano said. "Anything I do on the field is because I love it. If I'm healthy and play 130 games, 140 games, I know my numbers are there."

He also showed off in left field when he robbed Matt Cain of an extra-base hit in the fourth with a leaping catch against the ivy-covered brick wall.

"I was surprised," Soriano said. "I caught it, and I hit the wall, and said, 'Oh, what am I doing?' That wall is very hard. Thank God, I hit the wall but I made the catch."

But he had a tough time with Belt's ball in the sixth as the wind shifted. The Cubs had taken a 5-3 lead after Soriano's home run off a 1-0 pitch from Cain that landed in the left field bleachers.

"You turn around and hope the wind catches it," Cain said of Soriano's home run. "But when he gets a hold of the ball, I don't think it matters if the wind's blowing. He put a good swing on that ball and got all of it."

Travis Wood was in line for his first win since July 6, but Nady doubled with two outs in the sixth to chase Wood, and scored on Belt's triple to left. Belt then scored on a wild pitch by Manuel Corpas to tie the game.

Wood did not get a decision. While the Giants are aiming for the postseason, he's working on next year.

"He's positioned himself as one of our starters [for 2013]," Sveum said of the left-hander. "He's made strides to learn how to pitch completely different than he ever has, and it's made him able to survive and have some really good games. ... He's coming, and it's been an adjustment, but I think he's done a pretty good job, too."

Wood, who has not given up more than three earned runs in six of his last seven starts, agreed.

"I've always been a guy who just, 'Here it is, I'm going to attack you and pound you with the fastball and cutter and whatever happens, happens,'" Wood said. "But I've learned to use my other pitches and use both sides of the plate, so it's definitely been a learning year."

It's also been a long year for the Cubs, who are 0-for-September and have to face the Nationals, who have the best record in baseball.

"We're doing everything we can -- we're grinding out at-bats and playing great defense," Wood said. "The wins will come -- we're a young team. It's just getting experience and learning the game and slowing it down and figuring out what you have to do. We'll be there."

Soriano said the goal is to finish strong.

"This is a good test for us," Soriano said. "It's a good test for the young guys to teach them how to win. We have to play hard and not make mistakes if we want to win."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.