Cubs suddenly sharper in 7-5 win over Marlins
By GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 18, 2011 9:38PM
Koyie Hill (55) congratulates Reed Johnson, who hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning off Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco. | Mike Ehrmann~Getty Images
Updated: August 28, 2011 12:21AM
MIAMI — Must be the naked guy.
That’s as good an explanation as any for the Cubs’ sharper play and sudden ability to get key hits Wednesday night in a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium.
After all, the Cubs were stagnant again and couldn’t hit with men on base through four innings until that crazy, wild-haired naked guy sprinted onto the field and did his floppy dance in center field.
And the Cubs thought their flaws were overexposed this week.
Within moments of security removing the streaker, Cubs catcher Koyie Hill stopped laughing, stepped to the plate and led off the fifth inning by slapping a double past third baseman Greg Dobbs.
‘‘That was awesome,’’ Hill said. ‘‘That guy gave a good effort.’’
A few moments after that, the Cubs turned the bad-baseball tables on an opponent, taking advantage of an error in left on a two-out hit by Starlin Castro to score one of two runs in the inning for a 3-1 lead.
‘‘I always think these things are so ridiculous, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth,’’ manager Mike Quade said.
And even after Ryan Dempster was unable to hold the lead, the Cubs came back with a two-out hit by Hill, followed by Reed Johnson’s pinch home run to tie it in the sixth.
Marlon Byrd led off the eighth with a go-ahead homer for his first RBI since May 4. And when Alfonso Soriano followed with a single, rookie Tony Campana got a chance to show off his oft-mentioned speed as a pinch runner.
Campana stole second, took third on a Hill bunt and scored on a bouncer to a drawn-in Dobbs, going head-first just under the tag at the plate.
Energy. Heads-up baserunning. Errorless play in the field. Timely hitting.
From these Cubs?
Must be the naked guy.
Consider it a rally cry if the way the Cubs snapped their three-game losing streak leads to anything significant in the other direction over the next few days or weeks.
Until then, they’ll take what has become a rare and elusive day in the win column.
An even rarer day without a costly mistake.
‘‘It’s gotten to the point now where we’ve emphasized it,’’ Quade said before the game of recent breakdowns in fundamentals. ‘‘I needed to say things the other night and did. And now we’ve got a bunch of guys here who really give a damn, and everybody wants to change this by themselves. And it’s going to take a relaxed group of guys that’s focused on what they’re doing.’’
For at least one night, they found an unexpected way to get a team relaxed.
Who knows? If the Cubs can get on a winning streak (they’ll need to win three in a row for the first time this season first), maybe they can market the whole idea like the Angels did with the rally monkey a few years ago.
Until then, they’ve got at least a few more parts of their game to shore up. And consistent starting pitching is one of the biggest.
Dempster, who had a miserable April after earning the Opening Day start, had his streak of quality starts snapped at three when he struggled through a long four-run fifth inning that featured three consecutive RBI hits with two outs.
Setting the stage for the whole mess was Dempster hitting pitcher Ricky Nolasco with a pitch leading off the inning.