video thumbnail

CHC@MIA: Sanchez trots home on Dempster's error

MIAMI -- The Cubs learned a few things about Marlins Park. One, it's loud. Two, no matter how flashy the ballpark, you still have to make the plays.

Hanley Ramirez belted a three-run homer in the eighth inning off Rafael Dolis to lift the Marlins to a 5-2 victory Tuesday night over the Cubs.

With the game tied at 2 in the eighth, Jose Reyes was safe on a fielding error by second baseman Darwin Barney and advanced on a passed ball by rookie Steve Clevenger. Dolis then walked Emilio Bonifacio and fell behind 3-1 to Ramirez, who launched the next pitch over the left-field wall.

"I hit it good," Ramirez said. "I was trying to shorten my swing down and hit it hard somewhere up the middle. ... I've got the feeling and that's the good thing. It's always good to have that feeling at the plate."

Barney blamed himself, not Dolis.

"It was just a misread," Barney said. "I walked right into an in-between hop. You've got Jose Reyes batting, and my mind was, 'If something's chopped, you have to go.' The field plays really quick and I walked right into a bad read and that's not the thing you want to do for a guy like Dolis. There's really no excuses. You sit there and catch it in your belly and throw him out."

The momentum definitely seemed to shift to the Marlins.

"When a team leads off an inning with an error, it doesn't just get somebody up, it gets everybody up," Barney said. "You feel like things are going to go your way. It's not a good way to start that inning. It didn't take a bad hop, it didn't do anything. I walked right into it. It's my fault."

The Cubs were short-handed in the bullpen with the absence of Kerry Wood, who had returned to Chicago for a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. But Cubs manager Dale Sveum still would've gone with the rookie Dolis in that situation.

"He threw the ball OK," Sveum said. "He walked a couple guys, obviously, but it all started with the error. If he could've gotten four pretty quick outs, it would've been a different story."

This was the Cubs' first game at Marlins Park, and the cavernous, brightly colored ballpark showed how big it is early, as Bryan LaHair could only watch as a well-hit ball to center was easily caught.

"Ramirez kind of made it look small there," Sveum said. "He hit it about as hard as you can hit a ball."

This isn't Wrigley Field. There were dancing girls in one of the left-field ground-level sections, fish tanks behind home plate, and a giant sculpture in left-center with flamingos, dolphins and palm trees that looked as if every color in a 64-count Crayola box was used. It lights up when one of the Marlins homers, which it did when Ramirez connected.

Barney and Starlin Castro each singled in the Chicago fourth, with Castro stealing second to set up Alfonso Soriano's run-scoring groundout.

The Marlins tied the game in the fifth when Gaby Sanchez doubled and scored one out later on a throwing error by Ryan Dempster, who fielded Josh Johnson's ball and tried to make an off-balance throw. The ball sailed over LaHair. One out later, Bonifacio singled to score Johnson, and was then caught in a rundown trying to stretch his hit.

"I wish I could've thrown the ball better to first base," Dempster said. "I had [third baseman Ian] Stewart right there to field the ball, and I instinctively reached for it and made a bad throw.

"It's tough -- I feel I made a lot of good pitches, and you just build off that. It was a good pitched ballgame. One pitch ends up being the game."

Clevenger doubled with one out in the Cubs' seventh and scored on LaHair's single to tie the game.

Dempster was pulled after 100 pitches over six innings. He struck out eight and both the runs he gave up were unearned.

"That's about as good as you'll ever see him throw a baseball," Sveum said. "He probably made two mistakes the whole game, pitch-wise. His cutter was almost as hard as his fastball, and his split-finger was ridiculous. That was as good as you're going to pitch."

It's been a much better April for Dempster, although he has yet to win a game. The right-hander is now winless in his past 12 starts dating back to Aug. 16. The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in 11 of those games. A year ago, he compiled a 9.58 ERA in April.

"I don't look at the past or future, I just focus on each start and go out there and make as many quality pitches as possible," Dempster said.

The Cubs didn't help themselves, as they grounded into four double plays.

"The bottom line is we have to score runs," Sveum said. "We've got to get more offense to take some pressure off our starting pitchers, too." Comments