Bad 9th against Astros stings Cubs’ steady bullpen
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com August 16, 2011 11:12PM
The Astros’ Brian Bogusevic (right) is mobbed by teammates after his grand slam off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning Tuesday in Houston. | Pat Sullivan~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:29AM
HOUSTON — The Cubs’ bullpen may not have the best numbers in the game, but it might have been among the most resilient in the National League, especially in the last week.
That is, until closer Carlos Marmol blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning Tuesday night in Houston, giving up a game-winning grand slam to pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic with one out that beat the Cubs 6-5 and snapped their three-game winning streak.
Marmol, who was pulled from his role during struggles in July, had converted nine straight save chances during the Cubs’ 12-3 run dating to July 31 but wasn’t sharp in his sixth appearance in eight days.
‘‘Bad day,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve been pitching good, and hopefully I can continue tomorrow and forget about today.’’
Before the game, manager Mike Quade talked about the recent run of success and added: ‘‘The only concern, a little bit, is I’ve been riding the bullpen pretty hard.’’
The Cubs’ pen entered the day with the most relief innings in the NL (391), with a 3.75 group ERA.
As if on cue, Ryan Dempster pitched seven innings to hand off a lead to the pen. It was the first start of at least six innings for the Cubs since Dempster went seven five days earlier.
‘‘That’s a bummer. We had a chance to win the series,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘Fought hard today, swung the bats well. . . . The best thing we can do is put it behind us a fast we can and come out tomorrow.’’
Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless eighth to get it to Marmol, who got a quick out before loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk for Bogusevic.
A win today gives the Cubs a fifth straight series for the first time in three years.
The Astros snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner , who hasn’t pitched since injuring his shoulder in April and aggravating it in May, could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment by next week, barring a setback in a scheduled two-inning simulated game Friday at Wrigley Field.
He fared well Tuesday in a 26-pitch sim game.