CHICAGO -- In less than ideal hitting conditions, a frigid, 44-degree night, the Marlins executed the team approach they’ve been preaching.
They strung together quality at-bats on Monday to rally from three runs down, a comeback that included a home run from an improbable player -- Jon Berti. In the ninth inning, they capitalized on three walks and a defensive miscue and held on for a 6-5 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“We just really hang in there,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after his team snapped a three-game slide and ended the Cubs’ seven-game winning streak. “When you get those runs back early, it kind of puts you in a better frame of mind. You get down, 3-0, to these guys, and it looks like this could be a bad night.”
On a night their pitchers combined to walk 10, the Marlins kept chipping away and pulled even at 3-3 in the sixth inning on Berti’s first Major League home run, which came off Cole Hamels.
“Obviously, facing a really good pitcher in Cole Hamels,” Berti said. “So, I kind of stuck to my approach and got a good pitch to hit, put a pretty good swing on it. And, fortunately, it left the yard.”
Still, the Marlins were down again, 4-3, when the Cubs called on closer Pedro Strop for the ninth inning. They had one more rally left.
Neil Walker was on third and was going on contact when Prado’s grounder was fielded by Ryan. Walker was stranded between third and home, but Ryan went to first base for the out, allowing Walker to race home before first baseman Anthony Rizzo threw to Kris Bryant at third base to tag Herrera for the final out.
“I was on contact,” Walker said. “As soon as it's hit, even if it's a line drive to the third baseman, we're taking the gamble right there. I saw it hit. As soon as it's hit, I'm gone. If he catches it and throws it home, I just try to stay in the rundown as long as I can, to get the hitter to second. I guess he thought there were two outs, I have no idea. You have to ask him. Obviously, it turned into a big run.”
Noted Ryan: “I just froze. Checked him and it ran through my mind, and I froze. ... It was a double play, but, still, the run scored.”
The Marlins needed to build that two-run lead, because Bryant homered off Sergio Romo with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Berti’s game-tying homer off Hamels demonstrated how the Marlins weren’t about to go away. Listed at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Berti was the most improbable player in the starting lineup for Miami.
The 29-year-old rookie appeared in just his 13th game of the season after being called up from Triple-A New Orleans. A year ago, he saw action in four games with the Blue Jays.
He was able to get the home run ball, because the fan who caught it threw it back.
“Honestly, I had the thought before, if I hit it here, it's probably a good thing because they throw it back,” Berti said. “I didn't realize they did it until I heard the crowd go a little crazy.”