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Garza strikes out Murphy to end threat

MIAMI -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum missed seeing the home-run sculpture at Marlins Park do its thing Tuesday night when Hanley Ramirez hit a game-winning blast in the eighth. Unfortunately, he had a chance to see it twice on Wednesday.

Ramirez and Donnie Murphy each hit two-run homers to back Mark Buehrle, who helped himself with a rare RBI single, and power the Marlins to a 9-1 victory over the Cubs, who lost their fourth straight.

"It's tough for the starting pitchers to know they have to be perfect all the time," Sveum said.

What can he do to get the offense going? Sveum may tweak the lineup.

"You can do a lot of things," he said. "Is it going to make a difference? You do mix and match and change a few things and see what happens. Tomorrow, it's going to be our normal lineup in there, but I might switch things around a little bit."

In the first two games of this three-game series, the Cubs are 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and the Marlins have outslugged them, 9-2, in extra-base hits.

"I think the big thing is timely hitting and unfortunately, we're not getting it now," Chicago's Jeff Baker said. "Our pitchers are keeping us in the game, but when you're playing tight games and not scoring a lot of runs, the timely hits show up at the end of the game. We have to find a way to pick [the pitchers] up."

Buehrle (1-2) got plenty of support. He knows the Cubs, having faced them in 13 games in Interleague Play when the lefty pitched for the White Sox. This was his first start in his new home park and he looked as comfortable as when he threw his first no-hitter five years ago on this date, April 18, 2007, against the Rangers.

"They have a bunch of young guys over there that are pretty aggressive," Buehrle said of the Cubs. "[Catcher John] Buck called a great game. He was like, 'Throw a lot of offspeed pitches up there because they're so aggressive.' I just went with that game plan and I was going to attack them."

Sveum loaded the lineup with right-handed hitters and the Cubs entered the game batting .298 against lefties, second best in the National League. But they managed one run on six hits off Buehrle, who went eight innings.

"He had his 'A' game," Baker said. "He's a good pitcher and unfortunately, he dominated us and got the best of us."

Matt Garza (1-1) struck out seven and was charged with six runs on seven hits over five-plus innings. He made two mistakes and both left the ballpark.

Garza walked Buck to start the third and Murphy followed with his homer, igniting the sculpture with its flamingos, dolphins, and seagulls. With two outs and one on in the fifth, Ramirez set off the bright multicolored lights again with his fourth homer and third in as many games to left-center.

"Keep those two balls in the yard, and maybe I'm looking at a three-run game instead of a six," Garza said. "They did what they had to do with those pitches."

Gaby Sanchez added an RBI double into the deep gap in right-center in the sixth to chase Garza. The Marlins scored three more runs off Lendy Castillo, including Buehrle's RBI single, to open a 7-0 lead. It was Buehrle's third career RBI.

Garza could've helped himself in fifth when the Cubs had two on and one out, but he was unable to get a bunt down.

"He struggles with the bat," Sveum said. "He knows he has to get better at it and works at it, but it's different in the game when somebody is throwing 90 miles an hour up there, even though Buehrle is 86 [mph]."

"It's frustrating, man," Garza said. "I'm going to keep working."

When Garza exited, he was seen talking to himself.

"I always say something on the way out, good or bad," he said. "That doesn't change. It's not directed toward [the umpires]. They're doing their job the best the way they can, just like we are. This game is meant for human error. That's what makes it so fun and so frustrating at the same time."

Does he feel he needs to be perfect to make up for the lack of offense?

"If I start being perfect, it'll turn into one big ol' circus trying to dot every 'I' and cross every 'T,'" he said. "I'll keep doing what I've been doing my whole career and keep going out for the next one and keep getting ready."

Which is what the rest of the Cubs will do, too. Comments