Prior rides to rescue

When Florida manager Jack McKeon walked up to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry to say hello before Friday's doubleheader at Wrigley Field, he made a simple request.

"Take it easy on us today, would you?" McKeon said.

Hendry laughed, knowing the defending world champions were on a roll and McKeon was just blowing smoke.

As it turned out it was the Marlins who took it easy on the Cubs, starting a Class A pitcher in the nightcap after Carl Pavano tossed a shutout in their 7-0 victory in the opener.

The Cubs promptly jumped on Logan Kensing in his major-league debut, winding up with a split after an 11-2 triumph in Game 2.

Manager Dusty Baker admitted to being embarrassed with the Cubs' play in Game 1, when they made three errors, two base-running gaffes and let a flyball drop between Corey Patterson and Sammy Sosa for a hit. All of those combined for five gift runs off losing pitcher Kerry Wood.

"My team doesn't play that way," Baker said.

The Cubs bounced back in the second game, scoring five runs off Kensing before he recorded an out in the third inning and coasting on an 18-hit effort. Mark Prior allowed two runs over eight innings for the victory, throwing 100 pitches.

Baker let off some steam talking to the media between games but didn't feel the need to address his players.

"Sometimes they can see the look on your face," he said.

"Nothing was said," first baseman Derrek Lee said after the second game. "Nothing needed to be said. We understand what we have to do. … It's a big win. Every win is a big win from here on out."

The Marlins came to town for the first time since beating the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Wood allowed a season-high 11 hits while giving up six runs, four of them earned.

"Kerry should have only given up one run, the back-to-back doubles (in the sixth inning)" Baker said. "The rest of the runs we gave them. You can't be giving away outs and runs in the big leagues."

Baker called it a "total breakdown," pointing to catcher Paul Lo Duca picking Tom Goodwin off first and Todd Walker getting doubled off first on a line drive to third baseman Mike Lowell.

In the third inning of the opener, Ramon Martinez made back-to-back throwing errors on sacrifice-bunt attempts that led to Miguel Cabrera's two-run single and gave Pavano an early lead.

"Bunt plays were a key for us," McKeon said. "We like to get the lead. We're not a club built like the Cubs that sends six or seven guys up to hit the ball out of the park."

Martinez "is as sure-handed a guy as we have," Baker said. "This guy has been unbelievable over the year. This was just a bad day."

The Marlins added four runs in the sixth when Patterson and Sosa played a Lo Duca fly into a two-run single. After Cabrera's RBI single made it 6-0, the Cubs were done.

In the second game Moises Alou's three-run homer off Kensing in the third gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead and Aramis Ramirez followed with a solo shot to knock the rookie out of the game.

Alou wound up with four RBIs, Neifi Perez went 4-for-4 while subbing for Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Bako had three hits and Prior won for the third time in his last 12 starts.

"He didn't walk anybody, his location was good, his rhythm was good and his pitch count was relatively low for him," Baker said of Prior. "That's why we sent him back out there in the eighth. He needs to work and get his endurance up."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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