MIAMI (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki slapped a ground ball toward the left side of the infield, then hustled down the line to first just in case the throw didn’t get there in time.
It didn’t, and the Miami Marlins were in business.
That play by Suzuki kick-started what became a four-run fifth as the Marlins took the lead for good, and they went on to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-6 on Saturday.
“Just a good team,” said Justin Bour, who hit his 14th home run and finished with three RBIs. “Good vibe right now, and just got to keep it rolling.”
Giancarlo Stanton had his first three-RBI game since April 26 for Miami, which got to 40 wins in 75 games — or 20 games faster than they did a year ago. Paul Clemens (1-0) allowed four runs in five innings for his first big league win since June 12, 2013, and A.J. Ramos got the last two outs for his 24th save in as many chances this season.
Going back to 2015, Ramos has saved 33 straight, tying a Marlins franchise record.
“He’s been solid,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Any team that has a guy at the end that’s closing ‘em down and not giving ‘em up, if you can get to him with a lead you’re in good shape.”
Addison Russell hit a three-run homer and Miguel Montero added a solo homer for the Cubs, who still have the best record in the majors even after losing five of their last six games. They ended a four-game skid Friday night despite giving up Bour’s grand slam.
“That’s a tremendous lineup,” Clemens said.
Cubs starter John Lackey (7-4) gave up a season-high seven runs in 4 1-3 innings, and it’s almost like he knew Suzuki’s infield single would be trouble — smacking his glove and shouting in frustration after he reached.
It only got worse over the next few minutes for Lackey, who had a 2.78 ERA when the game started and a 3.29 ERA when it ended.
“To start off with an infield hit ... I have to do better than that,” Lackey said. “Four runs should be enough to win that game.”
Suzuki took second when Russell’s throw squirted away from Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and scored two pitches later on Martin Prado’s double.
Stanton drove in Prado with a single that chased Lackey and put Miami up 5-4, Bour greeted reliever Gerardo Concepcion with an RBI double, and Derek Dietrich’s sacrifice fly made it 7-4.
It was a rare sort of loss for the Cubs, who were 33-0 this season when scoring six runs and 44-3 when scoring at least four.
“When we score that many runs we’re going to win a baseball game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It was one of those nights and we move on.”
Cubs: Rizzo (back stiffness) and Montero (right knee) returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. ... 2B Ben Zobrist, who was forced out of Friday’s game after getting hit in the left ankle by a pitch, didn’t start but pinch-hit in the eighth.
Marlins: CF Marcell Ozuna, who played in all but one of Miami’s first 74 games, wasn’t in the lineup because of left wrist pain. Suzuki started in center for the sixth time this season.
Willson Contreras, who had an RBI double in the ninth for the Cubs, got the start in left field. That became the third position (joining catcher and first base) that he’s played in a very hectic opening eight games of his MLB career. And Lackey batted eighth, the second straight day that Maddon put a starting pitcher in that slot after doing the same with Kyle Hendricks in Friday’s win.
Suzuki went 1 for 4, moving him within 16 hits of 3,000 for his MLB career.
The series ends Sunday when Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (9-3, 2.36) faces Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (7-3, 2.55). Fernandez is 23-1 all-time at home and has never faced the Cubs, who have lost each of Hammel’s last three starts. Fernandez briefly left the Marlins’ dugout in the first inning Saturday after a foul ball bounced off his right hand, but returned not long afterward — and even asked Mattingly if he could pinch-hit in the late innings.