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Cubs closer Carlos Marmol saving whatever he can get

After stealing second base Cubs baserunner Josh Vitters advances third base throwing error third inning Chicago Cubs-HoustAstros game August 13

After stealing second base Cubs baserunner Josh Vitters advances to third base on a throwing error in the third inning of the Chicago Cubs-Houston Astros game August 13, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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TONIGHT

ASTROS AT CUBS

The facts: 7:05, CSN, 720-AM.

The pitchers: Lucas Harrell
(9-8, 3.97 ERA) vs. Chris
Volstad (0-8, 6.94).

Updated: September 15, 2012 6:23AM



Losing stretches have a direct effect on closers. For Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, it means having only two save opportunities in his last seven appearances.

‘‘It’s a tough situation,’’ Marmol said Monday. ‘‘They know and I know, but it’s the way it is. You have to take whatever the situation is.

‘‘You have to do a little more work [on the side] because of it to keep yourself ready when the opportunity does come. I’m not complaining or anything. You just wait for the opportunities.’’

The circumstances of rebuilding at midseason came as Marmol had hit a stride of converting 11 consecutive save opportunities through June and July before the July 31 trade deadline.

‘‘So far, the tough times we’ve had the last two weeks he’s handled well,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘He’s had some good innings and some pitch-efficient innings. In the past, you’d see closers who can’t really handle the situations where they aren’t in a save situation. There’s a different blood flow when they’re not the guy on center stage [in a save situation].’’

Sveum gives Marmol high marks since coming back from a time in May when he was demoted from the closer role in one of the Sveum’s first major decisions. Sveum has been Marmol’s biggest supporter since.

‘‘He’s been as good as anyone in baseball in save opportunities we’ve had,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s under contract through next year, and he’ll be the guy in that role next year who has closed.

‘‘I’m comfortable with him. He’s done a great job. People don’t realize those last three outs are tough even for the Trevor Hoffmans [601 career saves].’’

Roster move

Anticipating a Saturday make-up doubleheader in Cincinnati, the Cubs optioned left-handed starter Brooks Raley to Class AAA Iowa on Monday. Raley, who started the series finale Sunday against the Reds, could be recalled to pitch one of the Saturday games under a new MLB rule.

For now, the Cubs have recalled right-hander Michael Bowden, 25, from Iowa to help bolster the bullpen. Bowden, who came from the Boston Red Sox in the Marlon Byrd deal in April, has pitched well at Iowa, going 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 23 relief appearances.

‘‘Having eight guys in the bullpen will be helpful, and he’s pitched really well [at Iowa], his pitch efficiency and throwing strikes,’’ Sveum said.

Bowden is from Aurora and attended Waubonsie Valley High.

Bullpen heavyweights

Sveum said he’s trying to be careful with the workloads of setup men Shawn Camp and James Russell, who rank among MLB’s top three in appearances.

‘‘And their appearances have been for one full inning or more, not just a batter or two,’’ Sveum said.

Camp has appeared in 58 games, pitching 58 innings. Russell has been in 56 games with 522/3 innings.



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