CHICAGO (AP)—The offense was stalling and the losses were mounting. Derrek Lee could sense the frustration, but he noticed something else on Sunday.
High-fives. Smiles. And a sense of relief.
Lee homered and Mike Fontenot had a pinch-hit, three-run double during a four-run seventh inning that helped put the Cubs back in sole possession of the NL Central lead.
Chicago split its four-game series with Florida and moved one game ahead of the Brewers, who lost 11-6 to Houston. The Cubs open a four-game series at Milwaukee on Monday night.
“Our bats came alive today,” manager Lou Piniella said. “Let’s hope these bats travel well to Milwaukee.”
The Cubs appeared headed toward their eighth loss in 11 games early on. Mike Jacobs hit a three-run homer in the second and a two-run shot in the third that made it 5-0 before Chicago’s struggling offense showed some life.
After scoring just two runs or less in four of the previous six games, the Cubs got a three-run homer from Alfonso Soriano to tie it at 5 in the fourth. And they answered after Dan Uggla made it 6-5 with a leadoff shot in the fifth.
Lee started the seventh with a drive to center off Mark Hendrickson (7-8), his 17th of the season. The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs, and Fontenot hit a 1-0 pitch from Joe Nelson over the head of left fielder Josh Willingham.
“We had the right guy in that situation,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Just a flyball that Fontenot hit that just kept going, but that’s just the way it goes. Joe’s been pretty good against left-handers.”
Florida fell two games back of NL East-leading New York heading into their three-game series in Miami.
“It was a big game and it would have been nice to get out of here winning three out of four,” Jacobs said. “We have a big series coming up so we have to put this behind us. We have the Mets coming in and that’s who we’re chasing. Hopefully we can have a good series at home.”
Jacobs drove a 3-2 fastball into the basket in center field for a 3-0 lead after Jason Marquis walked Willingham and hit Uggla in the second.
Jacobs struck again after Uggla singled with two out in the third. This time, he drove the first pitch from Marquis into the right-field basket for his 22nd homer—a shot was initially ruled a double.
Marquis allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings, and Rick VandenHurk left with two outs in the fourth. He gave up five runs and eight hits.
While neither starter pitched well, the Cubs’ bullpen dominated and Piniella went out of his way to praise Samardzija, the former Notre Dame football star.
“We’ve been looking for one more good arm in the bullpen and I think we found it,” he said.
Jacobs has three multihomer games this year and four in his career. … Marlins C Matt Treanor (left hip strain) is being sent to Philadelphia to see a groin specialist. … Marlins LHP Andrew Miller, on the 15-day DL since July 18 with patella tendinitis in right knee, threw a side session in Florida and is expected to throw another one Monday. … Piniella said he doesn’t expect the league to take disciplinary action against him after he and first base coach Matt Sinatro were ejected for arguing a call at first in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. “All I did, basically, was I ran on the field to get my coach off the field,” Piniella said. “I asked the umpire (Rob Drake) one question. He kicked me out. I don’t see why I should hear from (the league).”