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You call this a slump? Cubs closer Carlos Marmol objects

Pittsburgh Pirates' Alex Presley is tagged out by Chicago Cubs catcher Koyie Hill attempting score single by Chase d'Arnaud during

Pittsburgh Pirates' Alex Presley is tagged out by Chicago Cubs catcher Koyie Hill attempting to score on a single by Chase d'Arnaud during the first inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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Updated: July 10, 2011 2:21AM



PITTSBURGH — The Cubs bullpen has pitched more innings than any pen in the National League, and Friday was C arlos Marmol’s fourth game in six days.

But, the Cubs’ slumping closer said, ‘‘No excuses. We’ve been throwing the ball a lot, but no excuses. I’m not tired.’’

Manager Mike Quade said Marmol’s slider was as flat Friday as he had seen it all season, and Marmol paid with a blown save on an eighth-inning homer by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Michael McKenry. He hasn’t looked sharp all week, and Quade assigned him to pitching coach Mark Riggins on Saturday to hash out mechanics issues.

But Marmol bristles at the suggestion he’s slumping.

‘‘You think I’m in a slump?’’ he said to a reporter after Friday’s game. ‘‘You’re not going to be sharp every time you go out there. I know myself. I try not to make excuses, and I get ready for tomorrow. Today is over.’’

Then there’s this:

‘‘He throws 10 strikes [out of 10 pitches] last night. Ten strikes. He never throws 10 strikes,’’ Quade said, grinning. ‘‘Maybe that’s the problem.’’

No chance, Papi

Despite the Cubs’ continued slide through the first half, combined with his own monthlong surge at the plate, third baseman Aramis Ramirez says nothing has changed about his stance on no-trade rights since he told anybody who asked that he would refuse to be traded.

Ramirez, whose contract includes a $16 million club option for next year, has raised his potential trade value significantly over the last month or so, while the Cubs have sunk to season-low levels.

‘‘You can look at what I said last month and write the same thing. Nothing’s changed,’’ said Ramirez, whose family is in Chicago during the season. ‘‘I’m not going anywhere.’’

Post-break pitching

Assuming good health for Ryan Dempster after his start Saturday night in Pittsburgh, the Cubs plan to open the post-All-Star schedule with Matt Garza, Dempster and Carlos Zambrano in the first three games of a four-game home series against the Florida Marlins.

Zambrano (back) will be making his first start back from the disabled list after a successful rehab start for Class  A Peoria.

After the first three, Randy Wells likely would be next in line, although Quade wasn’t ready to commit to that schedule yet.

‘‘And then we’re going to take a look at the kids,’’ said Quade, referring to 38-year-old Ramon Ortiz and 35-year-old Rodrigo Lopez.

Notes

Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has taken a leave from the team until after the All-Star break to attend to his ailing mother.

◆ Cubs Class AA manager Brian Harper was named to the U.S. team coaching staff for the prestigious minor-league All-Star Futures Game today.

◆ Cubs outfield prospect Matt Szczur, their representative in the Futures Game, was promoted from low Class A Peoria to high Class A Daytona. He hit .314 for Peoria during this first full pro season.



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