CHICAGO — The visiting Miami Marlins lucked out Sunday afternoon as they avoided a sweep at Wrigley Field with a 4-3 comeback victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The club, already missing ace Jose Fernandez for the rest of the season, got a scare when right-hander Henderson Alvarez exited the game with a left hip strain with one out in the sixth inning.
“I feel good. Thank God,” said Alvarez, who expects to make his next start. “I felt fine. I felt like I could still pitch. I told the manager I could still pitch, but due to precautionary reasons they took me out.”
Alvarez ran to cover first on Luis Valbuena’s grounder to Garrett Jones, whose high throw made Alvarez jump and awkwardly land in a split behind the base. He remained on the ground, where training staff, manager Mike Redmond and teammates checked on him.
After a few minutes, Alvarez did a series of squats near the mound before one warm-up throw. It didn’t look right to Redmond, who got the ball from Alvarez as he walked off the field.
“He looked stiff,” Redmond said. “I guess in my experience those extra pitches after somebody gets banged up usually don’t end too well. We need him for the long haul. One pitch, one at-bat isn’t worth a season.”
The 24-year-old had thrown just 69 pitches (54 strikes), allowing seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Alvarez also left his start May 28 in Washington after five scoreless frames as a precaution with right elbow stiffness.
On Sunday, left-hander Dan Jennings came in and surrendered a two-run triple to the next batter, Nate Schierholtz, ending Alvarez’s scoreless innings streak at 26. He fell just shy of Luis Aquino (26 1/3 in 1994) for second in franchise history.
The Marlins would battle back, erasing the 2-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the seventh. The Cubs then took a 3-2 lead into the eighth before Miami grabbed a 4-3 advantage.
With the bases loaded, Jones redeemed himself with a sacrifice fly to left, driving in Christian Yelich. Giancarlo Stanton, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the frame, scored two batters later on righty Pedro Strop’s wild pitch.
“I really wanted to win that ballgame, and win it for him and do what I can to get us back in the game and try to win the game,” said Jones, who asked Redmond about Alvarez when he returned to the bench. “You never want to be the guy to make the mistake to lose a game. But that play, he’s been our best pitcher, and to lose him on a play like that, it stinks.”
The last thing the Marlins need is losing another starting pitcher gone because of an injury.
Things would’ve looked bleak for a club within striking distance of first in the National League East. Had the rally not occurred, the Marlins would’ve been swept by four of their former players currently on the last-place Cubs.
“Of course I was concerned,” Redmond said. “We can’t afford any injuries, especially those pitchers. We’ve already had that happened, and we can’t afford anybody else to get hurt. Hopefully we got lucky there.”