MILWAUKEE -- Even in victory, the Chicago Cubs' bullpen is tough to watch these days.
And after watching Carlos Marmol work his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning to help the Cubs hold on for a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, manager Lou Piniella might be looking to the team's minor league system for help.
"I'll tell you this: For us to play good baseball this summer, and for us to have a chance to compete in this division, we've got to get our bullpen straightened out," Piniella said. "And that's going to be priority No. 1."
Piniella added that he wasn't against "bringing up some young kids with good arms" and seeing what they can do. First up is right-hander Jose Ascanio, who has been called up from Triple-A Iowa to replace injured reliever Chad Fox.
"From what I've seen so far here this year, it hasn't worked very well," Piniella said of his bullpen.
Marmol's shaky outing nearly squandered the Cubs' four-run third-inning rally that included a towering two-run homer by Alfonso Soriano. Sunday's victory allowed the Cubs to avoid a series sweep by the Brewers and go into Monday's off day with some momentum.
The loss cooled off the Brewers, who had won seven of their previous 10 games. Manager Ken Macha would have liked a few timely hits, but pointed to other missed opportunities -- such as a throwing error by Jason Kendall that cost Milwaukee a run.
"There's a whole bunch of things you can pick apart in this game," Macha said.
Cubs starter Sean Marshall (1-2) settled down after a rocky start, giving up a pair of runs and five hits in five innings. Marshall gave up an early 2-0 lead but managed to avoid the big inning, leaving a total of six runners stranded in the first three innings.
"They scored two runs and they had a chance to score more than two," Marshall said. "I made a couple of pitches when I needed to, and the defense made some great plays."
Piniella then handed the ball over to what has been a surprisingly vulnerable bullpen. Angel Guzman didn't allow a baserunner in the sixth or seventh, but Marmol managed to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in a messy eighth.
Marmol gave up a leadoff double to Ryan Braun -- then was called for a balk, allowing Braun to take third.
Marmol struck out Prince Fielder but walked Mike Cameron, then allowed Cameron to take second on a wild pitch. Marmol got J.J. Hardy to pop out, then ran the count to 3-2 on Bill Hall before Hall walked on what was ruled a checked swing.
"Hall, I thought, swung at that pitch," Piniella said. "I didn't think he stopped. I don't know. Umpires for whatever reason, they're hesitant to call the third [strike]."
With the bases loaded, Marmol got Kendall to ground into a forceout at second to end the inning.
"We had a lot of good chances," Cameron said. "Going against Marmol, that's always a battle in itself."
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth and walked Rickie Weeks with one out before striking out Corey Hart and Braun for his sixth save.
Chicago's big third inning began when Bobby Scales singled and Soriano clubbed a 1-1 pitch from Brewers starter Jeff Suppan onto the concourse deep in left-center field for a two-run homer, his 10th of the season.
Soriano's big hit made up for his misplayed ball in left field during the previous inning, which allowed Kendall to stretch a double into an RBI triple.
Suppan then gave up a double to Aaron Miles, a single to Kosuke Fukudome and an RBI single to Milton Bradley, giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
Fukudome then scored from third when Suppan threw a wild pitch that dribbled away from catcher Kendall, and Kendall's attempt to throw to Suppan at the plate missed the mark for a throwing error.
Suppan (2-3) went six innings, giving up four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits.
Fox was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and acknowledged that his career may be in jeopardy after his injury Saturday -- the latest in a long line of right elbow problems. ... New Cubs acquisition Ryan Freel pinch-hit in the ninth and singled but was picked off second base.