MIAMI (AP)—The Chicago Cubs lost ace Carlos Zambrano(notes) and slugger Aramis Ramirez(notes) to injuries. They blew an early six-run lead, and a three-run lead one strike from victory. They ran out of players and had Alfonso Soriano(notes) changing positions after each batter in the final inning.
Yet they won.
“It was crazy,” Lee said. “Back and forth.”
Florida staged an impressive comeback in the ninth but left 14 runners on base, committed three errors and allowed three unearned runs.
The Cubs weren’t exactly sharp themselves. They also stranded 14, struck out 14 times and gave up nine walks.
“We won,” manager Lou Piniella said. “How do you explain that?”
Zambrano was given a 6-0 lead but struggled with his control and left the game because of a stiff back after throwing 62 pitches. The right-hander walked the bases loaded in the first, later hit Hanley Ramirez(notes) with a pitch and allowed two runs before departing.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” Zambrano said. “It’s just a tight back. I’ll just have to treat it and get ready for my next start.”
Florida’s Ramirez, who leads the NL with a .343 average, left in the third with a bruised left leg. Aramis Ramirez drove in three runs before departing in the 10th after he was hit in the left forearm by a pitch.
Neither injury was believed to be serious.
Cubs closer Kevin Gregg(notes) had an 8-5 lead in the ninth and retired the first two batters before Ronny Paulino(notes) connected on a 2-2 pitch for his first career pinch-hit homer. Chris Coghlan(notes) and Marlins newcomer Nick Johnson(notes) singled, and Emilio Bonifacio’s(notes) triple tied the score.
“One of the craziest games I’ve ever been involved in,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Both teams used all of their position players. Outfielder Soriano was forced to fill in as an emergency infielder in the 10th, when Piniella moved him from second base to third and back to second to reduce the chance the ball would be hit to him.
“They’ll think the manager got drunk,” Piniella said.
“Thank God they didn’t hit me a groundball,” Soriano said, “because I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Marmol walked two batters and hit another, then fell behind Dan Uggla(notes) 2-0. The right-hander came back with three consecutive strikes to strike out Uggla looking, then struck out Jeremy Hermida(notes) swinging.
Marmol celebrated his escape with a fist pump and screamed along with the many Cubs fans in the crowd of 35,811.
“I don’t know how Marmol got out of the eighth,” Piniella said. “But he did.”
Johnson, making his Marlins debut at first base after being acquired from Washington, reached base five times and doubled home a run. Hermida had two run-scoring singles.
“I messed the plays up,” Cantu said. “I can’t do that.”
Zambrano needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning. After walking three, he escaped when Lee made a lunging backhanded stop at first base to retire Hermida for the third out.
NOTES: Piniella said LHP Ted Lilly(notes) (shoulder) may be ready for a rehabilitation start as early as Aug. 14 and could rejoin the rotation after that. … Koyie Hill(notes) started his 22nd consecutive game. That’s the longest streak for a Cubs catcher since Damon Berryhill started 25 in a row in 1989. … The Cubs led the NL in July with 36 homers.