Sunday's 11-3 blowout of the Nationals in Washington was a godsend for manager Lou Piniella, who used closer Kevin Gregg for 1 2-3 innings Saturday night. Piniella also has relied heavily on lefty Sean Marshall and setup man Carlos Marmol, who got Sunday off after working three days in Washington.
Marshall has been more than dependable as the only lefty in the pen, having allowed no runs in July so far. The Cubs have veteran lefty B.J. Ryan in the minors after signing him last week, and he could help take the load off Marshall in a couple of weeks.
Right-hander Angel Guzman, who has gotten more responsibility and who seems over a triceps issue that had him on the disabled list in late June and early July, also will be counted on heavily.
The Cubs need to get more consistency out of Marmol, who already has walked more this year than he did all of last year.
CUBS 11, NATIONALS 3: The Cubs had their biggest inning of the season in the fourth, when they sent 12 men to the plate and scored seven runs, securing a four-game sweep. LF Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer in two days, connecting in the fourth. 3B Jake Fox homered and drove in four. RHP Kevin Hart lasted five innings, getting the win.
--The Cubs recalled RHP Kevin Hart from Class A Peoria to start Sunday's game. They optioned OF Sam Fuld to Class AAA Iowa (Des Moines). Hart, who started July 8, went to the minor leagues to get work over the All-Star break. Hart gave up five hits and two runs in five innings. He nearly was done in by five walks.
--3B-OF Jake Fox fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Fox hit his fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot, in the sixth inning. He hit his eighth double of the season. Fox got a rare start because he has been serving as the backup catcher to Koyie Hill, and manager Lou Piniella has not wanted to get caught short. Both Hill and Fox played Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- LHP Sean Marshall had allowed only one inherited runner to score out of 25 through Sunday. The 96-percent rate in runners stranded led the major leagues.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We'll dislocate a finger a week if it gives us a three-run homer." -- Manager Lou Piniella, on left fielder Alfonso Soriano hitting his first homer since June 7 last Saturday, two days after dislocating his right pinky finger.
--LF Alfonso Soriano ended a string of 120 at-bats without a homer, when he connected Saturday in Washington. It was Soriano's first homer since June 7, and it came two days after his dislocated his right pinky finger. He hit his second home in two days in Sunday's rout. He was 2-for-3.
--LHP Ted Lilly, who missed Saturday's start in Washington because of inflammation in his left knee, will start Monday at Philadelphia. Lilly had been bothered for "a couple starts" by the knee.
--2B Mike Fontenot may be over a slump that found him benched. He was 3-for-5 in the finale after going 2-for-4 with a homer Saturday and 1-for-3 Friday. –The Sports XChange
IOWA 5, NASHVILLE 4 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, the Cubs (49-45) got a go-ahead RBI single from Matt Camp (1-for-1) in the eighth inning to take the victory and trim the Sounds’ lead in the Pacific Coast League’s American Northern Division to three games Sunday. Seven Iowa players recorded one hit, including CF So Taguchi (1-2), LF Jason Dubois (1-4) and 3B Aaron Miles (1-5), who all had doubles. 2B Luis Rivas (1-3) tripled and drove in three runs. RHP Greg Reinhard (2-3) got the win in relief, allowing one run and one hit in one inning. RHP Mitch Atkins turned in his sixth quality start in eight games, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings for a no-decision. He struck out five batters and walked one.
JACKSONVILLE 7, TENNESSEE 5 (CLASS AA)
At Jacksonville, Fla., the Smokies (44-51 overall, 12-13 second half) collected 10 hits and squandered a 4-0 first-inning lead in the loss Sunday. 1B Blake Lalli (1-3) hit a three-run home run, his fourth this season, and RF Tyler Colvin (2-5) and C Welington Castillo (2-4, double) added two hits apiece. RHP Casey Coleman started and received a no-decision, allowing four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked a career high six batters and struck out four. RHP Marcos Mateo (2-6) suffered the loss in relief, allowing three runs (one earned) off two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
DAYTONA 3, ST. LUCIE 2 (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Cubs (45-44, 11-11) needed only five hits to take the victory Sunday. DH Robinson Chirinos (1-2) provided the big hit with a three-run home run, his 11th. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games. SS Starlin Castro (1-3) hit his 15th double and third in his last five games. LHP James Leverton (7-8) won his fifth game in his last seven starts, allowing one earned run and five hits in five innings. He struck out a season-high five batters and walked two.
PEORIA 6, CLINTON 5 (CLASS-A)
At Clinton, Iowa, the Chiefs (48-44, 10-13) collected 14 hits in the victory Sunday. SS Ryan Flaherty (3-5) and 3B Jovan Rosa (3-4) led the team with three hits apiece, with Flaherty hitting his 15th double and collecting a season high in hits. LF Nelson Perez (2-4) hit his 14th double and drove in three runs. RHP Marcus Hatley (1-0) earned the win with one scoreless inning in relief. RHP Chris Huseby pitched a season high three scoreless innings for his 12th save, allowing one hit and one walk. He struck out three batters and now has a 2.13 ERA and 52 strikeouts to four walks in 38 innings.
SALEM-KEIZER 3, BOISE 2 (CLASS LOW-A)
At Boise, the Hawks (12-17) collected nine hits in the loss Sunday. Four players collected two hits apiece: DH Hak-Ju Lee (2-5), 1B Justin Bour (2-3, walk), 3B Greg Rohan (2-4) and CF Jose Valdez (2-3). Lee has reached base in 26 of 27 games. RHP Robert Whitenack started and allowed one run and four hits over four innings for a no-decision. He struck out three and walked one. RHP Joe Simokaitis (0-3) suffered the loss in relief, allowing one run in two innings.
CUBS 6, INDIANS 2 (ARIZONA ROOKIE LEAGUE)
At Goodyear, Ariz., the Cubs (13-11) collected 11 hits in the victory Sunday. SS Wes Darvill (4-5), the Cubs’ 2009 fifth-round draft pick, collected a season high four hits and three RBI, and 1B Jordan Petraitis (1-5) hit his first career home run. RHP Julio Pena (1-1) earned the win in relief with four scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and one walk and struck out four batters.