Stanton homers twice to help Marlins beat Cubs 6-4
Cubs still take three of four in series
Giancarlo Stanton let his bat do his talking Sunday.
Stanton hit two homers and added a run-scoring single as the Miami Marlins rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 in a battle of last-place teams.
Despite the loss, the Cubs took three out of four in the weekend series.
After the game, the Marlins slugger did not talk to reporters, who waited for an hour for him to appear.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who did speak to the media, was full of praise for Stanton.
"This guy is a special player -- a game-changer," Redmond said. "It was just a matter of time. Over the past four or five days, we've seen him put together some good at-bats. I know confidence-wise, he has to be feeling pretty good."
Playing before an announced crowd of 19,817 at Marlins Park, Stanton went 3 for 3 with four RBI and a walk. His first homer, a two-run shot in the first inning, went 376 feet. His second homer, a solo shot in the eighth, was measured at 371 feet.
The win went to Ricky Nolasco (2-2), who retired the last 15 batters he faced, from the third to the seventh. He threw 100 pitches in seven innings and allowed four hits and three runs -- all early.
"I thought I utilized my fastball pretty good," Nolasco said. "My slider and my split weren't working too well. I was just trying to throw fastballs and let them put the ball in play."
The Marlins' winning rally began in the sixth when Juan Pierre singled to left. At the time, it was just the Marlins' second hit of the game.
Pierre stole second and, with two outs and first base open, the Cubs decided to pitch to the powerful and suddenly hot Stanton. He made them pay by drilling a single to left to tie the score 3-3.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said having starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva walk Stanton was never part of his plan.
"Not in that situation," he said. "I just felt (Villanueva) had the pitches to pitch around him and keep the ball away from him. I didn't have my left-hander (James Russell). He was down today, so I didn't have anybody for (on-deck batter Greg) Dobbs, and I didn't want to put the winning run on, either."
After Stanton singled, he advanced to second when the Cubs tried to throw Pierre out at home. Stanton then scored when Donovan Solano lined a single off the glove of shortstop Starlin Castro, who mis-timed his jump.
That made it 4-3, and the Marlins got an insurance run in the seventh when shortstop Nick Green hit a solo homer 378 feet to left. Stanton added his second homer in the eighth.
Marlins reliever Mike Dunn worked into a jam in the eighth when he gave up two one-out singles to Castro and Anthony Rizzo. But Dunn escaped when Alfonso Soriano lined out to left and pinch-hitter Scott Hairston popped out, forcing Pierre to charge in and make a fine running catch.
Closer Steve Cishek came on in the ninth to collect his third save of the season, although he gave up a solo homer to Dioner Navarro.
The Cubs scored in the first inning -- just as they have every game in this series. Leadoff batter David DeJesus drew a walk and, with one out, Rizzo pulled a low-and-outside pitch into the gap in right-center field for a run-scoring double.
In the bottom of the first, the Marlins took just their second lead of the series when Chris Coghlan walked before Stanton turned on an inside pitch for his first homer of the day.
That shot was 96 feet shorter than Stanton's blast on Saturday -- not that it bothered Marlins fans. But what surely matters the most to the Marlins is that Stanton's power drought seems to be over.
Before Saturday's long ball, Stanton had gone 72 at-bats without a homer since Oct. 1, 2012. It was the third-longest drought of Stanton's career.
One positive note for the Marlins: After two droughts of 97 and 83 at-bats, respectively, he got hot each time. After the longer of the two, he hit six homers in nine games. After the shorter one, he slammed four homers in eight games.
The Cubs, meanwhile, grabbed the lead back in the third when Villanueva and DeJesus singled and Castro grounded a two-run double just inside the third-base bag to make it 3-2.
Villanueva, who took the loss to drop to 1-1, said Stanton got the best of him.
"I made a couple of mistakes and he took advantage," Villanueva said. "You don't want to get into a situation like that where he can beat you. I tried to make a pitch and he got it."
NOTES: The Marlins made six changes from Saturday's starting lineup to the card sent out by Redmond on Sunday. Only Solano at second base and Stanton remained unchanged. Chris Valaika moved from shortstop to third base. Green played shortstop, Dobbs was at first, Rob Brantly was the catcher, Pierre played in left and Coghlan was in center. ... The Cubs went with the same lineup except that they subbed in Navarro for Wellington Castillo. ... Cubs starting pitchers entered Sunday with a 3.02 ERA, the second-best mark in the National League. Only the St. Louis Cardinals (2.08) have been better. ...Since 2011, Castro has had eight hitting streaks of 10 games or longer. No one in the majors has had more during that span and only Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees has had as many. ... The Cubs, who have played 16 of their first 24 games on the road, will open a 10-game homestand against the San Diego Padres on Monday. ... The Marlins will remain at home and play three games against the New York Mets starting Monday.
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