Cubs 5, Marlins 1

The Chicago Cubs wobbled into Miami with a three-game losing

streak and departed two nights later with their first series sweep

of the season.

”This game is weird,” outfielder Marlon Byrd said.

Byrd homered for the second straight night Thursday, and Casey

Coleman had a career-high seven strikeouts in 5 2-3 shutout innings

to beat the Florida Marlins 5-1.

After blowing leads to lose both games in a series at

Cincinnati, the Cubs bounced back by defeating Florida twice.

”To play the way we did in Cincinnati – we should have won,”

Byrd said. ”Here we get two wins against a team that is very

good.”

The Marlins remained 1 1/2 games behind NL East leader

Philadelphia, but they are sputtering on offense. Against Coleman

and four relievers, they stranded 12 runners and went 1 for 9 with

runners in scoring position.

”That’s pretty much the story,” Florida manager Edwin

Rodriguez said. ”It’s not a matter of lacking effort or intensity,

it’s just not going our way right now.”

Coleman (2-3) walked five but retired five batters with runners

in scoring position and lowered his ERA from 7.22 to 6.03. Several

of his outs came on hard-hit balls.

”In some ways I consider myself lucky,” Coleman said. ”But

you have to make pitches, and I feel like I did that for the most

part.”

He left after throwing 109 pitches, and the bullpen completed an

eight-hitter, with Carlos Marmol pitching a scoreless ninth. Marmol

has thrown 22 2-3 consecutive shutout innings on the road since

Aug. 25.

Byrd hit a two-run homer, his third of the season, and believes

he has finally found his long-ball stroke.

”You start searching for it and start thinking too much,” he

said. ”All of a sudden you clear your mind and it comes.”

Starlin Castro hit a two-out, two-run double in the ninth. Reed

Johnson doubled home Chicago’s first run of the game. A lineup that

struggled to generate power for much of the season totaled 12 runs

in two games in Miami, and the Cubs have homered in the past four

games.

”We’ve been hitting singles and more singles,” Coleman said.

”Now we’re starting to drive the ball more. Everyone has

confidence in these guys. This summer at Wrigley is going to be a

lot of fun.”

First the Cubs head to Fenway Park, where they will play this

weekend for the first time since the 1918 World Series.

”I’m a history buff,” Byrd said. ”But our focus is going in

and winning.”

The Cubs were only 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position

before Castro doubled in the ninth off Burke Badenhop to score

Koyie Hill and Kosuke Fukudome, who reached on singles.

Florida’s Mike Stanton struck out three times against Coleman,

then hit his ninth homer in the eighth off Kerry Wood. Hanley

Ramirez, trying to shake a season-long slump, had two hits and

hiked his average to .217.

But leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan went 0 for 5 with three

strikeouts, and he’s in a 3-for-33 slump that has dropped his

average to .238.

Chris Volstad (2-3) allowed three runs in five innings. Florida

trailed 3-0 when he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after throwing

only 71 pitches.

”I felt great, as good as I’ve felt,” Volstad said. ”Other

than the pitch to Byrd that he hit out, I had nine ground balls. I

was in the zone, not falling behind too many guys. Definitely a

step in the right direction.”

NOTES: The Marlins lead the NL with a record of 127-107 (.543)

in interleague play going into their weekend series against Tampa

Bay. … Heading into the Cubs’ weekend series at Fenway Park, Byrd

has a career average of .378 (17 for 45) in 12 games there. …

Ramirez committed his eighth error in the first inning. …

Fukudome is 1 for 14 lifetime against Volstad.