Marlin Madness

The Cubs lost all six of their games against last-place Florida this year, including a 6-4 setback Thursday at Dolphin Stadium.

The National League Central-leading Cubs are at a loss to explain why. The Marlins have beaten them 10 straight dating back to April 2006.

"Certain teams play well against other teams -- it's inexplicable," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "They lost 90 games, but they've had good success against us. They seem to score runs early in the ballgame and take charge of the game. And we're not the best come-from-behind team.

"I don't have any reason for it. I do know this, if they played like this against everybody else in baseball, they would be representing the Eastern Division (in the playoffs)."

After Wednesday's loss, Piniella said the Cubs would win Thursday, but that didn't work out too well.

"I have to feel that way -- it's the way I should feel," Piniella said before the game.

MARLINS 6, CUBS 4: Aramis Ramirez had four hits, but the Cubs left 10 on base and dropped three in a row at Dolphin Stadium with the setback Thursday afternoon. Starting pitcher Steve Trachsel gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings, and the Cubs couldn't recover. They head into the final weekend of the season two games ahead of Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Kerry Wood had one of his best innings as a reliever Thursday after coming into a bases-loaded, no-out mess against Florida in the sixth inning. Wood struck out pinch hitter Jason Wood and induced Hanley Ramirez to hit into a double play. In the seventh, he got out of his own jam via a double play. Wood hasn't allowed a run in his last 8 2/3 innings.

--RHP Steve Trachsel, who is doubtful to make the roster if the Cubs make it to the postseason, gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings Thursday and left the game against the Marlins trailing 5-1.

--OF Daryle Ward jammed a thumb sliding into second base Wednesday but was available for pinch-hitting duty Thursday. However, he didn't get into Thursday's game.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano, who opens a three-game series with Cincinnati on Friday, has struggled against the Reds this year. He is 1-4 with a 6.59 ERA against the Reds in five starts.

--C Geovany Soto was back in the starting lineup Thursday, a day game after a night game. He had started five consecutive games until Jason Kendall took over Wednesday night. Manager Lou Piniella said earlier in the week that Kendall would get most of the starts down the stretch, but it will be interesting to see if he sticks to that in light of the fact that Kendall has struggled throwing out runners (2-for-52) and that Soto entered with a .375 average.


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