CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella was left bewildered, wondering how another pitcher coasted through the Chicago Cubs' lineup.
Ricky Nolasco pitched seven sharp innings, and Cody Ross and Gaby Sanchez hit home runs as the Florida Marlins defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Tuesday night. Nolasco (3-2), a former Cubs farmhand, allowed one run on five hits for the Marlins, who have won two straight after losing five of their six previous games.
"We hit a few balls hard," Piniella said. "We had a chance in the eighth inning, a big chance ... I don't know, I think I'm going to go to a casino in Indiana and play snake eyes. I don't know what else to say, I'll be honest with you.
"Look, one of these days we'll start swinging the bats, that's all I can say."
Chicago lost for the seventh time in eight games and tied a season high with its fourth consecutive loss. Nolasco, who was traded for Juan Pierre in 2005, was a big reason as he struck out three and walked one.
"I just try to get ahead of these guys," Nolasco said. "They're an aggressive team, so I just kept the ball down and got ahead. The three-run lead was big, so I could just go out there and go after guys. We played great defense tonight. It's big for us to win two in a row right now. We need it. I thought we played a good game today, a good team effort, just like yesterday. Let's just hope this gets us on a run."
Leo Nunez pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in nine opportunities as the Marlins try for their first three-game sweep of the season Wednesday.
"Now we have an opportunity to extend the winning streak," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I don't think we've won three straight all year. We're off to a good start, we've got [Chris] Volstad going for us tomorrow."
Cubs starter Randy Wells (3-2) pitched eight strong innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He struck out eight and walked one.
Highly touted Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who was called up Friday, committed his fourth error in two days and fifth of the season on pinch-hitter Wes Helm's grounder in the eighth inning.
Despite the defensive struggles for the rookie, Piniella said Castro will back in the starting lineup Wednesday.
In his previous start, Wells allowed six earned runs on five hits in the shortest outing of his career in an 11-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday and he didn't fare much better early against the Marlins. In the second inning, Wells walked Dan Uggla, and with two outs, Ross hit Wells' 1-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers. It was Ross' second of the season.
With two outs in the third, Sanchez smacked Wells' 2-1 pitch into bleachers for his third of the season to make it 3-0.
The Marlins and reliever Chris Leroux overcame a scare in the eighth inning. Leroux walked Kosuke Fukudome with one out. Ryan Theriot moved Fukudome to third on a single to right, and Marlon Byrd's sacrifice fly made it 3-2.
Lee followed with a double to left, but Theriot was wisely held up at third. Leroux limited the damage by striking out Aramis Ramirez on a high fastball to end Chicago's threat.
"Obviously, it's not the ideal situation to be in so I'm just glad I got out of that and we won," Leroux said. "Striking that guy out and keeping us in the lead that's what I was in there for."
Piniella didn't have much to add regarding Ramirez's struggles as his batting average dropped to .159.
"He's been clutch in the past, he really has," Piniella said. "It's been a struggle for him this year, obviously, just keep playing. What can I say?"
Lee, who was dropped from the third spot in the order to the fourth, doubled to right after Ross misjudged the ball on the warning-track and scored Byrd from first in the sixth inning to make it 3-1.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I think it's just a philosophy," Lee said. "I'm more of a believer being stable, but Lou likes to change, that's what he likes to do."
Marlins CF Cameron Maybin made a nice running catch into the ivy-covered brick wall to rob Geovany Soto of extra bases in the fifth. Maybin was holding his left wrist after the catch, but stayed in the game after getting it looked at by the team trainer. ... The Marlins won their first road series since April 13 at Philadelphia.