CHICAGO (AP)—Sergio Mitre could have been excused for letting out some frustration. He decided, however, to keep it positive.
The Marlins starting pitcher was dominating the Cubs. His teammates were hitting the ball all over Wrigley Field. And then, Mitre was limping off the field Wednesday, putting a damper on a night when Florida beat up Chicago 9-0 to complete a three-game sweep.
“It’s not that bad,” said Mitre, who left with a cramp in his right hamstring in the fifth inning. “We still don’t know if I’m going to be out or not. I’ll let you know when I get frustrated.”
Dan Uggla and Miguel Cabrera hit solo shots in the first inning, and Uggla added a two-run drive in the seventh off Cubs starter Ted Lilly. Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer off Angel Guzman in the eighth, but the good vibe was tempered by Mitre’s injury.
The Marlins built a 3-0 lead, and Mitre had seven strikeouts and a walk. But instead of leaving with his third victory, he hobbled off the field after running out a sacrifice bunt in the fifth.
Randy Messenger (1-1) came on in the bottom of the fifth and pitched two scoreless innings for the win. The Cubs managed only five hits against five Florida pitchers.
“Sergio, he’s been great for us all year long,” Uggla said. “Messenger has been the same. For him to come in and throw two dominating innings like he did is huge for us. The rest of the bullpen took over. It was a really nice win for us.”
The frustration continued to mount for the Cubs, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games and fell a season-high seven games below .500 at 22-29. It followed a 9-4 loss that included several baserunning blunders and left manager Lou Piniella suggesting it “might be our worst game of the year.”
This one was pretty bad, too, and it came after the players held a lengthy pre-game meeting and Piniella and team executives had one of their own. Cubs fans repeatedly let their team hear it, too.
“Going into meetings doesn’t guarantee you a win,” infielder Ryan Theriot said. “Guys are sitting here talking all the time, so it’s not like a meeting is all of a sudden going to turn your season around and make you a championship team.”
And the loss left Piniella hoping “this is our bottoming-out game, my gosh.”
“We didn’t hit, didn’t pitch,” he said. “We ran the bases good tonight.”
Piniella paused, broke into a wide grin and laughed. That was about the only comfort he could take from this one.
Uggla and Cabrera sent shots out to left in the first to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead, and Florida added a run in the second when Aaron Boone, who had doubled, scored from third on a wild pitch.
Uggla made it 6-0 in the seventh with his second homer of the game and team-leading 11th of the year.
Lilly (4-3) allowed six runs—five earned—and seven hits in seven innings.
“Fortunately, we weren’t in a one-game playoff today,” he said.
When the Cubs hired Piniella and committed $300 million to acquire and retain free agents in the offseason, they did it with the idea of reaching the postseason. As bad as the Cubs have played, a division title remains within reach.
For the Marlins, this was a convincing win and a convincing series. But they couldn’t feel too good after seeing Mitre leave the field.
A former Cub, Mitre seems to be on his way to having a breakout season, but he can’t escape injuries.
He spent most of last season on the disabled list with a shoulder problem and was on the 15-day disabled list this season with a blister on his right middle finger.
After Lilly hit Boone leading off the fifth, Mitre laid down a bunt. Lilly bobbled the ball before rushing an errant throw toward first that hit Mitre in the helmet and face, putting runners on first and third. The problem was the hamstring, not the head, and Mitre was lifted after Lilly threw two strikes to Reggie Abercrombie.
“When I went to go take a secondary lead, it just started cramping up,” Mitre said. “I couldn’t run.”
Uggla has three multi-homer games this season. … The Marlins had never swept a series of three or more games in Chicago until this one. … The Cubs have been shut out twice this season, and both times, Lilly took the loss. The Reds beat them 1-0 on April 15.