Marmol stumbles to loss in ninth

There was once a time when Carlos Marmol was the most dominant reliever in baseball. It really wasn’t all that long ago, as he posted an astounding 16.0 K/9 just two seasons ago. Fast forward to 2012 and Marmol has consistently struggled with his control and has looked eminently more hittable.

But with the Chicago Cubs out of contention since May, it’s gone overlooked that Marmol, while not nearly as dominant as he once was, has been rather effective over the last seven weeks. Marmol hadn’t allowed an earned run in his last nine innings of work, only allowed one earned run in August and only two earned runs since the All-Star break.

However, in Thursday’s 7-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Marmol took the loss as he allowed two runs to score in the ninth. Marmol hadn’t allowed more than one run in his previous 17 appearances, encompassing 16 2/3 innings in which he posted a 1.08 ERA with 20 strikeouts and seven walks.

“He’s probably been as good as anybody in baseball, if not the best (since he’s been back in the closer role),” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “So it’s not going to be perfect all the time. Obviously today didn’t go our way. That’s a first place team, battling with great at-bats.”

Though Marmol, who gave up two walks and two hits on Sunday, felt there were some close pitches where he didn’t get the call from the umpire, he was willing to put the loss on his shoulders.

“It’s just a bad day, you’re not going to be perfect all year long . . . hitters need to eat too,” Marmol said with a laugh. “Couple walks, couple base hits get me. Tomorrow’s a new day though.”

Despite the loss, Alfonso Soriano added to his already surprising bounce-back season with a three-run homer to temporarily give the Cubs a 5-3 lead in the fifth. It was Soriano’s 25th home run of the season, making it his ninth season (fourth with the Cubs) accomplishing that feat.

“I love what I do and I’m working hard every day to be consistent,” Soriano said. “The most important thing is to just try and help the team to win, if I put up good numbers, I can help the team.”

Soriano has battled various lower body injuries during his time with the Cubs, his most recent being a knee injury that has dogged him all season. Soriano knows that at his age and with his legs not being what they were five years ago, he must put in the extra work to be a productive player.

“I just come early to the ballpark to have enough time to work with my body and especially my knees,” Soriano said. “I play this game with my heart, anything I do on the field it’s because I love it. Normally I say, if I’m healthy and play 130, 140 games, I know that my numbers (will be) there because I have my talent, I have my heart (and) that’s what I love to do.”

Soriano also made a leaping grab to rob Matt Cain of extra bases, banging hard in to the ivy-covered brick wall in the process.

“I was surprised,” said Soriano, who was once famously quoted as saying he was afraid of hitting the brick wall. “I catch it and I hit the wall and I say, ‘What am I doing?’ because that wall is very hard. But I thank God, I hit the wall but I made the catch, so that made me feel much better.”