How it happened: Jeff Samardzija was solid yet again, giving up one run on five hits over seven innings. Carlos Marmol put everybody on a roller coaster ride in a set-up role during the eighth inning, walking two while striking out two without giving up a run. The power game continues to emerge as Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto all went deep.
What it means: It’s too soon to say that the old Marmol is back, but he finally showed the fire that had been missing. After creating his own mess with a pair of walks to lead off the inning, he escaped the jam with a line drive and two strikeouts, all with no mound visit from the bench. When it was done Marmol pounded his chest and sent the crowd in to a frenzy, something that didn’t seem likely any time soon when he was removed from his closer role on Friday.
Outside the box: LaHair and Stewart gave the Cubs their first back-to-back home runs of the season when the left-handed sluggers each connected in the fourth inning. It was the first time the Cubs had back-to-back home runs since another first-base, third-base combination did the trick Aug. 11 of last season. Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena pulled it off that day.
Off beat: Reed Johnson got more than he bargained for as a fill-in for Alfonso Soriano in left field. In the second inning, he had to prevent a Tommy Hanson fastball from hitting him in the face by turning his left shoulder into the pitch. Two innings later he thought he had his revenge only to fly out to the base of the left field wall in what was nearly the third home run in three batters for the Cubs. Johnson may or may not be happy to know that Soriano is expected to return to left field Tuesday.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Ryan Dempster (0-1, 0.95 ERA) to the mound in the middle game of the three-game series against Atlanta. The Braves will answer with right-hander Randall Delgado (2-3, 5.14) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.