Defensive work in spring not helping Cubs

MIAMI -- Despite how it might have looked Tuesday night, improved defense was stressed all spring by Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum and his staff.

Miscues ended up costing the Cubs a chance at a victory Tuesday, when two errors loomed large in a 5-2 defeat to the Miami Marlins.

Ryan Dempster has delivered three solid starts this season, but Tuesday’s might have been his best. He became his own worst enemy, though, when he cut in front of third baseman Ian Stewart to field a ball in the fifth inning and make an off-balance throw.

Dempster ended up tossing the ball into the stands beyond first base, hardly a surprise with the way he had to torque his body just to hurriedly get the throw off in time. A run scored on the miscue and a second was also unearned on a two-out single.

“If I could have thrown the ball better to first base the results probably would have been different,” Dempster said. “It sucks. I had Stewart right there to field the ball and I instinctively fielded it and made a bad throw. I gave them two runs that way.”

The second glaring miscue came when Darwin Barney booted a ground ball to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez crushed a three-run home run giving the Marlins the lead for good.

“It was just a misread,” Barney said. “I walked right into an in-between hop. I had [speedy] Jose Reyes batting and in my mind of something is chopped you better go. The field is playing quick and I just walked right into a bad read. There’s really no excuses.”

With the way things have been going for the Cubs, late miscues have only spelled trouble.

“When a team leads off the inning with an error, it doesn’t just get somebody [on the opposition] up, it gets everybody up,” Barney said. “It’s not a good way to start that inning. It didn’t take a bad hop, it didn’t do anything. It’s my fault.”