More drama but same role for Marmol

Carlos Marmol survived the ninth inning Wednesday, giving up two runs but coaxing a double play to end the game. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH -- Carlos Marmol is still the closer despite another near meltdown in the Chicago Cubs' 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

"I'm not doing anything," manager Dale Sveum said after the game. "We're 2-1. Everyone is in the same roles heading into Atlanta."

Marmol gave up three hits and a walk after entering the game in the ninth with a 3-0 lead. He had men on first and third with no one out and the Cubs' lead down to just a run. The game was headed for a walk-off Pirate win or at least extra innings.

But after pitching coach Chris Bosio visited the mound and told him to get a strikeout and ground ball, he did just that and the game ended on a double play off the bat of Neil Walker.

"It's tough but I'm still fighting," Marmol said regarding the controversy surrounding him again. "I'm going to be fighting every time I go the mound."

Marmol was pulled in the ninth inning of Monday's game after giving up a run with the Cubs leading 3-0 as well. Sveum called on Kyuji Fujikawa, who notched his first major league save by getting the last out.

On Thursday, Sveum had less options in the bullpen after using three relievers in the seventh and eighth innings, including Fujikawa, who worked a perfect eighth. He did have Hisanori Takahashi ready to go, but this was Marmol's game to save -- or not.

"I was leaving him in until he gave it up," Sveum said.

He nearly did, but the Cubs escaped with a win for the second consecutive time Marmol has started the ninth inning with a lead, though he gave up runs in both.

"He gave up hits; he wasn't throwing the ball all over the place," Sveum said. "For the most part we know things like that can get interesting with him. But he got out of it."

It's hard to know why it's any better if Marmol is giving up hits instead of walks except it does give his defense a chance to make a play. But when they're hard-hit balls it means his stuff isn't very good.

"I'm not going to say it's my best slider or best fastball but I'm making good pitches," Marmol said. "I make a good pitch, they get a base hit. You can't do anything about a base hit."

No you can't, but the manager can decide to pitch him in less of a do-or-die situation. So far Sveum has elected not to.

Asked if he appreciated the support from Sveum, Marmol said: "It's a tough question. I'm going to continue to try doing my job. Right now I'm focusing on getting people out. I'm not focusing on anything else."

Marmol believes he can get on a roll after the struggles of the first two games.

"It won't take much," he said. "Just getting people out."

That's easier said than done. As for changing closers, it sounds like Sveum isn't going to do that unless the Cubs start losing games not just giving up runners.

"I went with it three months last year," Sveum said regarding Marmol's second half. "He got out of all of them."

But can history repeat itself?