CHICAGO -- Despite a number of key injuries, manager Lou Piniella and the Chicago Cubs have found a way to stay on top of the NL Central.
"I don't know want to use the word remarkable, but that's what comes to mind," Piniella said. "Of the fact that we haven't been to where we want to go for a long time everybody has gotten on our bandwagon but it hasn't been easy. It's been a complete struggle if you want to know the truth.
Carlos Marmol, subbing for closer Kerry Wood who was placed on the 15-day disabled before the game, got four outs for his fourth save but it wasn't smooth. He threw 38 pitches in the ninth and loaded the bases, finally ending it by striking out Wes Helms on a 3-2 pitch.
Hanley Ramirez homered for the Marlins, who have lost three of four overall and lost to the Cubs for the first time since April 25, 2006.
Zambrano (11-4), who drove in a run with a double, held the Marlins to two runs and five hits, striking out six and hitting a batter.
"What are the strengths of this club? We have darn good starting pitching. They give us a chance to win all games all the time," Piniella said.
And the manager still has confidence in Marmol.
"He's a little too excited. He just needs to calm down a little bit, make his pitches, trust his pitches, he's got good stuff," Piniella said.
Trailing 2-1, the Cubs got to Florida starter Scott Olsen (6-5) in the fifth inning. Mark DeRosa drew a leadoff walk and Blanco singled. One out later, Zambrano ripped an RBI double down the left-field line to score DeRosa and tie the game at 2.
With first base open, the Marlins elected to walk Alfonso Soriano to load the bases. Olsen got Ryan Theriot to hit a comebacker and he forced Blanco at home. But Olsen walked Derrek Lee on a 3-2 pitch to make it 3-2.
With the crowd still on its feet, Aramis Ramirez followed with a double over the head of right fielder Luis Gonzalez, who took a bad route on the ball. Soriano and Theriot scored to put the Cubs up 5-2, but Lee was thrown out at the plate.
"I thought I executed my pitch," Olsen said. "Apparently not, but it's not my decision. The one to Lee, it is what it is. It was close. It's going to go either way."
Blanco hit a solo homer with two outs in the sixth.
"We had some opportunities. We weren't able to put a crooked number up in the eighth or the ninth inning and they put up a big number in the ninth," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Luis Gonzalez then drove the ball to right, but DeRosa made a spectacular diving catch. Alfredo Amezaga tagged up at third to cut the lead to 6-3. Marmol got the final out of the inning, by striking out Josh Willingham looking.
DeRosa got some positioning help from center fielder Reed Johnson before the catch.
"He gave me a single like he was falling asleep, but I read it to move over a couple of steps and it worked," DeRosa said.
After Olsen singled in the third, Ramirez hit his 24th homer into the bleachers in left.
Olsen allowed six runs and seven hits. He walked three and had three strikeouts.
Chicago general manager Jim Hendry hopes Wood can return Tuesday at Milwaukee when he is eligible to be activated. He was put on the DL retroactive to July 14 with a blister on his pitching hand.
Cedeno led off the third with his second homer of the season.
- Wood went on the DL for the 12th time in his 10-year career.
- Marlins 2B Dan Uggla was not in the lineup but pinch-hit in the ninth.
- Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome and C Geovany Soto had the night off.
- Thursday night's attendance was 41,482 and the Cubs surpassed the two million mark, the fastest they reached that figure in club history.