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Chicago at Florida

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Chi. Cubs (75-47) «010200003672
Florida (63-60)014000000540

Ward's pinch-hit homer in ninth propels Cubs past Marlins

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- Daryle Ward probably wasn't the most likely guy to pick up a bat as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning with Chicago Cubs trailing by two runs.

Even more unlikely was breaking out of his 0-for-13 slump with a game-winning homer.

Ward connected on an 0-1 pitch off Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, driving it over the right-field wall for a three-run shot and helping the Cubs rally to beat the Florida Marlins 6-5 on Friday night for their ninth straight road victory.

"I'm just trying to make good contact there and I crushed the ball," Ward said. "I knew he was going to come after me.

"The first pitch was a fastball, then I'm watching his release on the next pitch and the fastball comes again and I got all of it."

Gregg (6-5) walked Mark De Rosa to lead off the ninth and allowed Reed Johnson's one-out single before Ward's winning shot.

"The guys put us in a spot to win the ball game and I screwed it up in the ninth," Gregg said. "It was a situation when I didn't execute my pitch and he made me pay for it."

Gregg had converted on 11 consecutive save opportunities before Friday's appearance.

"I was just so excited," Ward said. "This really picks up my confidence."

Reliever Chad Gaudin (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, and Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless ninth for his 25th save in 30 opportunities.

"What a clutch at-bat by Ward," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "Hopefully this will get him going."

The Cubs have 35 comeback victories, tying Milwaukee and Detroit for the major league lead.

Florida's Jorge Cantu broke a 1-all tie in the third with a three-run homer. Cantu drove Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano's pitch over the scoreboard in left field for his 21st of the season. Josh Willingham's two-out triple scored Dan Uggla later in the inning for a 5-1 lead.

The Cubs cut the deficit to 5-3 on De Rosa's two-run homer in the fourth, a shot off Marlins starter Josh Johnson over the wall in left field for his 14th home run of the season.

Johnson allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He walked three and matched a career-high with eight strikeouts, set in three previous appearances.

The Cubs are unbeaten on the road since a 9-2 loss at Arizona July 22, and have won four straight on their current six-game road trip. They pushed their lead in the NL Central to five games over Milwaukee, which played the Los Angeles Dodgers later Friday night.

"I like the way these kids get after it for nine innings," Piniella said. "There's a lot of confidence in this locker room."

The victory also was Chicago's first at Dolphin Stadium since July 10, 2005.

"I'm happy for the team. This has been a difficult place for us," Zambrano said.

Zambrano fared better than his previous start, when he allowed a season-high nine runs in four innings Aug. 9 against St. Louis. Zambrano pitched six innings this time, allowing five runs and four hits with six strikeouts.

"I've been rushing a little too much and I've been working with the pitching coach on correcting some things in my approach," Zambrano said.

Chicago scored first on Zambrano's two-out RBI single in the second, and the Marlins tied it in the bottom of the inning as Cody Ross' two-out double to deep center that scored Uggla from first base.

"We played with some energy and swung the bats," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had a chance to add on a run but we didn't."

Notes

  • Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez sat out Friday's game after sustaining a left hip contusion while sliding into home Thursday at Atlanta.
  • After the game, Marlins designated RHP Justin Miller for assignment and called up C Paul Lo Duca from Triple-A Albuquerque. Lo Duca, who played with the Marlins from 2004-05, signed a minor-league contract on Aug. 8.
  • Jeremy Hermida is in an 0-for-16 slump after going hitless in five at-bats.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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'I was just so excited,' Daryle Ward says of his homer. 'This really picks up my confidence.' (US Presswire)
'I was just so excited,' Daryle Ward says of his homer. 'This really picks up my confidence.' (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Chicago

M. DeRosa
AB 1
R 3
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Florida

J. Cantu
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5000032 .293
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
Ryan Theriot, SS5010010 .318
Derrek Lee, 1B4000011 .289
Jim Edmonds, CF3000111 .240
Geovany Soto, C4110011 .286
Mark DeRosa, 3B1312300 .282
Mike Fontenot, 2B4010013 .286
Reed Johnson, RF-LF4110024 .303
Carlos Zambrano, P3011000 .362
    Chad Gaudin, P0000000 .000
   a- Daryle Ward, PH1113000 .229
    Kosuke Fukudome, RF0000000 .270
Totals34676410  
a-homered for Gaudin in the 9th
Batting
HR - Mark DeRosa (14, Johnson), Daryle Ward (3, Gregg)
RBI - Mark DeRosa 2 (70), Carlos Zambrano (12), Daryle Ward 3 (13)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Zambrano (4)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Mark DeRosa (9, Throwing), Carlos Zambrano (2, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano 6455561 3.38
Chad Gaudin (W,9-4) 2000010 3.39
Kerry Wood (S,25) 1000120 2.72
HBP - Willingham (by Carlos Zambrano), Cantu (by Kerry Wood)
WP - Kerry Wood (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 119-63, Chad Gaudin 20-14, Kerry Wood 30-20
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 6-7, Kerry Wood 1-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 29, Chad Gaudin 6, Kerry Wood 5
Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez, SS2110310 .295
Jeremy Hermida, RF5000025 .253
Jorge Cantu, 3B-1B4113000 .282
Mike Jacobs, 1B4000001 .246
    Matt Lindstrom, P0000000 .000
    Kevin Gregg, P0000000 .000
   a- Alfredo Amezaga, PH1000012 .258
Dan Uggla, 2B2200211 .263
Josh Willingham, LF3011011 .264
Cody Ross, CF4011013 .256
John Baker, C4000011 .233
Josh Johnson, P1100110 .188
   b- Luis Gonzalez, PH1000000 .263
    Joe Nelson, P0000000 .000
    Wes Helms, 3B1000000 .252
Totals3254569  
a-struck out for Gregg in the 9th
b-flied out for Johnson in the 6th
Batting
2B - Cody Ross (19, Zambrano)
3B - Josh Willingham (4, Zambrano)
HR - Jorge Cantu (21, Zambrano)
RBI - Jorge Cantu 3 (68), Josh Willingham (34), Cody Ross (56)
2-OUT RBI - Josh Willingham (14), Cody Ross (22)
Team LOB - 8
Florida Marlins
Josh Johnson 6533381 3.38
Joe Nelson (H,7) 1000010 1.96
Matt Lindstrom (H,11) 1000000 3.29
Kevin Gregg (BS,7; L,6-5) 1233111 2.73
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Johnson 112-70, Joe Nelson 18-13, Matt Lindstrom 9-6, Kevin Gregg 27-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Johnson 4-6, Joe Nelson 2-0, Matt Lindstrom 2-1
Batters Faced - Josh Johnson 26, Joe Nelson 3, Matt Lindstrom 3, Kevin Gregg 6
Game Information
Attendance - 28163
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Bill Miller, First Base - Jerry Meals, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Chris Guccione