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updated: 4/3/2011 9:04 PM

Control bugaboo bites Marmol again

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  • Pittsburgh Pirates' Garrett Jones, left, and Neil Walker celebrate after they both scored on a single by Pedro Alvarez during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, April 3, 2011 in Chicago. The Pirates won 5-4. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

      Pittsburgh Pirates' Garrett Jones, left, and Neil Walker celebrate after they both scored on a single by Pedro Alvarez during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, April 3, 2011 in Chicago. The Pirates won 5-4. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

 
 

Highly imperfect.

Statistically goofy.

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Wildly entertaining.

All of that pretty well sums up the Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday at Wrigley Field. The loss was an excruciating one for the Cubs who looked poise to win this series 2-1 before the Pirates rallied for 2 runs in the ninth inning against closer Carlos Marmol.

In Saturday's 5-3 Cubs victory, Marmol struck out the side in the ninth. But an old bugaboo came back to bite Marmol on Sunday: the leadoff walk. Later in the inning, the Pirates scored 2 runs on an infield single.

"I'm out of breath; you guys talk," manager Mike Quade told the media afterward. "We don't have enough time to go through all the stuff in that game. What an emotional roller-coaster that was."

Quade is right about all that.

How about the Pirates outhitting the Cubs 16-9, with all of their hits being singles?

Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza gave up 12 of those singles in 7 innings. He also struck out a career-high 12. The 12 punch-outs were the most all time by a Cubs pitcher in his debut with the team.

Garza had to feel a little bit like a guy out there swatting mosquitoes away from his face all day.

"I kept attacking," said Garza, obtained from Tampa Bay in January. "Even though those 12 singles were annoying, I jut kept telling myself, 'Just get to the next pitch. Just get to the next pitch and keep attacking.'"

Things got wet and wild in the fourth, when the Cubs rallied from being down 2-0 to tie the game. After laying down a sacrifice bunt his first time up, first baseman Carlos Pena lofted a flyball deep to right with the bases loaded.

Pena thought the ball was going out. The Cubs' baserunners looked like they were going to play bumper-cars on the basepaths. And Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones got a beer shower from a fan who inadvertently spilled his suds.

"The ball was a little above my glove," Jones said. "It (the beer) kind of came down and hit me in the head and the mouth a little bit, but it tasted good."

Since the Cubs scored only 2 that inning, no doubt it was less filling, too.

Pena thought he got all of the ball.

"I hit that ball pretty well," he said. "You understand the winds here in Chicago could knock the ball down like that."

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who is a cool 8-for-13 (. 615) hit the first of his 2 triples and scored in the sixth, and when Alfonso Soriano homered leading off the sixth, things looked good for the Cubs.

But the leadoff walk by Marmol to Jones in the ninth followed by a Neil Walker single eventually set up a 2-run infield single by Pedro Alvarez that scored the runners from second and third. Alvarez grounded the ball slowly past Marmol. Castro, heretofore a star of the game, raced in but his throw to Pena was not on target, and both runners raced home.

"I saw the ball and thought in my mind that Marmol would catch it," Castro said. "I feel good because I did my work and did my job, but I don't feel good because the team lost."

If the kid sticks around Cubdom for as long as it looks like he will, he'll see a lot of stuff that looks like Sunday's game.

• Follow Bruce's Cubs reports via Twitter @BruceMiles2112, and for more Cubs talk check out our Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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