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Marlins walk off on back-to-back HRs in 9th

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MIAMI (AP)

Cody Ross had shaving cream caked on his collar, while Dan Uggla had the stuff dripping from his neck and earlobes. Back-to-back solo homers in the ninth inning to win a game - on consecutive pitches, no less - left the Florida Marlins in a delirious mood. Two outs from defeat, Uggla and Ross turned the Marlins' fortunes around with two mighty swings. Uggla tied it with his 19th homer, Ross followed with his second of the day and 17th of the year, and Florida beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Sunday to move within five games of Philadelphia for the NL East lead. "We've got one thing in mind," said Ross, who also made two sliding catches in center field and hit a game-ending home run for the second time in his career. "I think everyone knows what that is."
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Kevin Gregg (4-3) blew a save for the second straight night for the Cubs, his fifth failure in 26 opportunities this season. The former Florida closer retired pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez to lead off the ninth, then fell behind 3-1 to Uggla, who settled in and waited for an off-speed offering. Boom! His no-doubter into the blue seats high above the left-field scoreboard tied it at 2. "I've seen Gregg a lot, and the last few years he's been as dominant as anybody," said Uggla, wiping away remnants of the obligatory shaving-cream-in-the-face celebration in the clubhouse. Uggla hadn't even caught his breath when Ross connected, and the Marlins ended their homestand with a mob scene at home plate. "It wasn't pretty," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The thing finished quick." Brendan Donnelly (2-0) allowed his first run in 11 innings as a Marlin - a first-pitch shot by Jake Fox leading off the ninth. It was Fox's eighth homer of the season. Alas, that was just the start of the late-game heroics. "It was two pitches," Gregg said. "Twenty-five guys put together a great effort and two pitches are why we walk out of here losing." Both starters were stellar while working with little run support. Florida's Ricky Nolasco retired the final 14 batters he faced, giving up one run and four hits in seven innings. The Cubs' Ryan Dempster, in his second start back from the disabled list, pitched six shutout innings, yielding just three hits. Dempster left with a 1-0 lead, which Aaron Heilman promptly wasted. Two batters into his outing, Heilman served up Ross' first homer of the day, a drive to straightaway center field. The Cubs went in front when Derrek Lee singled in Sam Fuld in the third. Fuld drew a one-out walk and went to second on Ryan Theriot's single, part of a three-hit day for the Cubs' shortstop. Nolasco was unhittable from there. Not only did he set down the final 14 he faced, Nolasco only let one ball escape the infield during that stretch. Nolasco, who has taken the loss just once in his last 10 starts, lowered his ERA to 5.00, nearly half from what it was May 22 (a season-worst 9.07). "It all starts with starting pitching," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Ricky Nolasco was outstanding today. And to go back-to-back there in the ninth inning was something special, against a pretty good closer."

Notes

Ramirez, the Marlins' shortstop and NL batting leader, was out of the starting lineup because of a bruised left knee sustained when he was hit by a pitch Saturday. ... Chicago is 3-33 when scoring two runs or less this season. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was held out after getting hit on the left forearm Saturday. He said he'll try to play Monday at Cincinnati. ... Marlins C John Baker extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Tagged: Cubs, Marlins

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