MIAMI (AP) — Kevin Slowey put together another solid outing for the struggling Miami Marlins. He just doesn’t have a win to show for it.
Slowey did not figure into the decision as he allowed three runs in six innings in Miami’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night, when Luis Valbuena hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the ninth inning off Steve Cishek (1-3) to lift the Cubs.
“Another close game,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “Slowey did a tremendous job and he gave us a chance.”
Slowey allowed five hits and did not walk a batter in his third quality start. He struck out six as he threw 76 of 114 pitches for strikes.
“I felt good, and I think as the starting pitcher all you can ask is the faith of your manager and the faith of your pitching coach,” Slowey said of the work load. “They had faith in me to finish that (sixth) inning and it gives you a little extra (lift).”
Slowey is 0-2 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts after signing with Miami as a free agent in the offseason.
“It’s a challenge for us at the moment to be able to put together back-to-back wins obviously, but it certainly isn’t for lack of effort or lack of preparation,” Slowey said.
Valbuena stepped to the plate in the ninth not wanting the game to go into extra innings.
“Ninth inning, two outs, I tried to hit a home run,” Valbuena said. “I didn’t want to play extra innings.”
The Marlins fell to 5-17, matching the worst start in franchise history through 22 games, according to STATS. Miami had the same record in 1995.
“Cishek made a mistake up in the zone and the guy hit it out,” Redmond said. “It just seems like that’s the way it’s going right now for us.”
Shawn Camp (1-1) pitched the eighth and Carlos Marmol got the final three outs for his second save in four opportunities.
Nate Schierholtz doubled and homered for Chicago, which scored the final three runs of the game.
“It was a good win for us, a good comeback,” Schierholtz said. “Valbuena had a big home run in the ninth and our starting pitching has been great, they’ve been keeping us close in games. We just need to score them a few runs like we did tonight and we’ll come out on top.”
Valbuena put the first pitch he saw from Cishek, a fastball, into the Marlins bullpen in right-center field with two outs in the ninth.
“He’s just been good, he has four home runs and he’s on pace for 30-something home runs,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s done a great job. He was a huge pickup last year.”
Marmol walked Donovan Solano to begin the bottom of the ninth and Austin Kearns lined a single to left to put Solano in scoring position with no outs. Juan Pierre’s bunt was fielded cleanly by catcher Welington Castillo, who threw to third for the force.
“It’s unacceptable,” Pierre said of his failed sacrifice attempt. “You have one job to do; you give yourself up and bunt the guy over. You can put this one on me.”
Placido Polanco lined out to center and Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging to end the game, handing the Marlins their fourth loss in the last five games.
“It was a slider,” Stanton said. “You’re always looking for a strike; that’s the ideal thing you’re supposed to do in a major league game.”
Marmol has not officially been named the team’s closer, which Sveum believes works in his favor.
“He pitches great when he doesn’t know he’s the closer,” Sveum joked.
Schierholtz tied the game 3-3 in the sixth with a solo home run off Slowey down the right-field line that hit the foul pole just over the fence. It was his third home run of the season.
“I knew it was going to be close, I was just praying for it to hit that foul pole,” Schierholtz said. “I hit a changeup and just kind of hooked it. I was lucky that it caught that pole.”
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson allowed three runs in the first two innings before holding the Marlins scoreless for the next four frames. He struck out four and walked four.
“Everything was up, slider was up, fastball was up,” Jackson said. “…I just feel like I couldn’t put people away earlier in the game, but we fought back, a great team effort. These are the kinds of games we know we’re capable of winning.”
Both teams scored a run in the first inning as Starlin Castro had an RBI single for the Cubs and Rob Brantley drew a bases loaded walk for Miami.
Pierre drove in the Marlins’ second run with a single to center, then stole second and third, and scored on a groundout by Stanton for a 3-1 lead.
Back-to-back doubles by Schierholtz and Castillo pulled the visitors within 3-2.
NOTES: Valbuena had four home runs in 90 games last season. … Jackson is 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA in nine games against Miami. … A pair of Marlins are getting closer to making their return from shoulder injuries. SS Adeiny Hechavarria is expected to have a rehab assignment next week with Single-A Jupiter before rejoining the big league club when he is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 2 and RHP Henderson Alvarez will have a 45-pitch simulated game on Saturday and will make a rehab start with Jupiter on May 2. … The Cubs will send RHP Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50 ERA) to the mound Friday to oppose Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-3, 6.27 ERA).