CHICAGO (AP) — Donnie Murphy has thrived in late-game situations over the last month.
Murphy capped a four-run seventh inning with a two-run homer as the Chicago Cubs rallied for a 9-7 victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.
Since joining the Cubs in early August, Murphy is hitting nearly .400 from the seventh inning on and Wednesday’s home run was his sixth in the seventh inning or later.
“I’ve come through in those situations before and for some reason I’m comfortable in ‘em,” he said. “I just like the situation. I like the game on the line. It’s not pressure on me. Someone else has to throw the pitch over the plate. It’s pressure on them sometimes and I just like the situation.”
Murphy has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs in an otherwise dismal second half. Since being called up from the minors in early August, he’s been one of the team’s best hitters and certainly the best clutch hitter. Not bad for a guy who essentially was on baseball’s scrapheap this season after bouncing around for much of his career since making his major league debut in 2004.
“Throughout the rest of his major league career, he’s been hurt and on the (disabled list) and never really got a chance,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Murphy. “He’s obviously getting a chance here and is making the most of it.”
The Cubs certainly made the most of some shaky pitching by the Marlins. Rookie left-hander Brian Flynn lasted just four-plus inning in his debut, giving up three runs on six hits. The bullpen was worse and couldn’t protect 6-3 and 7-4 leads.
“They’ve been pretty consistent for us all year, but today wasn’t one of our better days,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of his bullpen.
The Cubs pounded out four home runs, with Sterlin Castro, Dioner Navarro and Ryan Sweeney adding solo blasts.
The Marlins went deep twice. On the strength of a grand slam by Adeiny Hechavarria and a two-run shot by Logan Morrison, they led 7-4 when reliever A.J. Ramos entered the game in the seventh and walked the first two batters he faced, Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo.
After a passed ball advanced the runners, Navarro hit a dribbler off the end of the bat down the left-field line for a single that scored both runners and made it 7-6.
That was all for Ramos as Ryan Webb came on. He didn’t fare any better as Murphy, who played with the Marlins last season, hit the first pitch from Webb (2-6) into the left-field bleachers.
“I know that guy’s a sinker ball guy,” Murphy said of Webb. “I was looking for a sinker, he gave it to me and I put a pretty good swing on it.”
The Cubs added an insurance run in the eighth on Castro’s double.
Carlos Villanueva (4-8) got the win. Kevin Gregg, despite walking the potential tying runs on base, worked out of a jam for his 29th save in 34 chances.
But, of course, the star of the game was Murphy, who was considered nothing more than a placeholder for the remainder of the season when he arrived but now has to be considered for the future even though he’s no youngster at 30.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and starting thinking about it a little too much and maybe it’s affecting my play on the field,” he said of next season. “I don’t want to do that, but at the same time, it’s at that part in September when it does start to get in the back of your mind a little bit more.”
NOTES: Before the game, the Cubs claimed RHP Daniel Bard off waivers from the Boston Red Sox and selected the contract of RHP Chang-Yong Lim from Triple-A Iowa. Bard, 28, was first-round pick (No. 28 overall) of the Red Sox in 2006 and was one of organization’s most highly-regarded prospects at one point. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated outfielder Cole Gillespie, who originally was in the lineup Wednesday, and RHP Michael Bowden for assignment. … Rob Brantly, the Marlins’ opening-day catcher before being sent to the minors, is back with the expanded roster and eager for a second chance. “The biggest problem I had at the beginning of the season was I was trying to do too much,” he said. … Both teams are off on Thursday. The Cubs host the Brewers on with LHP Chris Rusin (2-3) taking on RHP Kyle Lohse (9-8), while the Marlins open a home series against the Nationals with RHP Jose Fernandez (10-6) facing a pitcher to be announced by Washington.