Marmol becomes the fifth rookie hurler to start for the Cubs this season as he replaces oft-injured Kerry Wood, who was placed back on the 15-day disabled list Friday with stiffness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.
The 23-year-old right-hander has thrown four scoreless innings over two relief appearances, with six walks, six strikeouts and no walks since his recall last Sunday from Double-A West Tennessee.
“I’m excited about starting in the big leagues,” Marmol said. “I’m going to be the normal pitcher you see out there. Just going to go out and throw strikes.”
Cubs manager Dusty Baker has been impressed with Marmol so far.
“I love his stuff,” Baker said. “That’s why we got him up here. I’ve seen more guys have success coming out of Double-A as pitchers than position players.”
Marmol (0-0, 0.00 ERA) went 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 11 starts for the Diamond Jaxx, striking out 76 and allowing just one homer in 58 innings.
Marmol’s debut as a starter follows another stellar outing from the ace of the Cubs’ staff. Carlos Zambrano won for the fifth time in six decisions and Michael Barrett hit his third career grand slam to lead Chicago (25-36) to a 4-2 win over the Reds on Saturday.
The victory marked the second straight the Cubs, now 8-19 in its last 27 road games after a 5-3 start. Chicago’s 6-5 win Friday ended Cincinnati’s eight-game winning streak.
Despite back-to-back losses, Cincinnati (36-26) should feel confident with left-hander Eric Milton on the mound. Milton (4-2, 4.14) is 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA against the Cubs this season, including a 3-2 win on May 31 when he allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Chicago is just 6-12 against left-handed starters—three of those wins against Brandon Claussen, who was the losing pitcher Saturday when he gave up three runs and struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings.
Milton enters having won two straight decisions. The last time he won three in a row was during a four-game run from June 29-Aug. 20, 2004 while playing for Philadelphia. He was a disappointing 8-15 with a 6.47 ERA last year, his first with Cincinnati.
Milton pitched seven scoreless innings and extended his streak of not allowing a walk to 23 1-3 innings in a 7-0 win over St. Louis on Tuesday. That win improved Milton to 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA since he returned from the 15-day DL on May 20 after left knee surgery.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Milton, who gave up five hits to the Cardinals. “I’m pitching well and hopefully I stay on this roll. The team’s playing well and it’s a lot of fun.”
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 547th career homer Saturday to move one behind Mike Schmidt for 11th on the all-time list. Griffey has four home runs in his last eight games against the Cubs.
Chicago hasn’t won a series at Cincinnati since Sept. 16-19, 2004.