MIAMI (AP) — It’s late June and the Cubs are in first place, which means it must be time to talk about averting a collapse.
The subject came up after Sunday’s 6-1 loss at Miami, capping a week in which the Cubs went 1-6. They still have the best record in the majors, and they also have a rich tradition of fading before the finish.
“We better call in reinforcements and call that panic button,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said facetiously. Then he suggested this Cubs team, unlike others, can weather rough patches.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to go through these stretches,” Rizzo said. “I’m not saying it’s OK. I’m not saying it’s fun. But it’s a long season.”
Against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, it was a long day. He allowed one run in seven innings and struck out 13 Cubs.
“They’ve got a bunch of talent,” Fernandez said. “They’re a very tough team to beat, and that says a lot about our team and how bad we want it — not caring what your record is, we’re going to try to beat you.”
The Marlins went 7-3 on their homestand. At 41-35, they’re six games above .500 for the first time since June 2012, their first season in Marlins Park.
Miami outscored the injury-depleted Cubs 23-14.
“They’re a banged-up club, but we played well,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I don’t think this in our minds, is a need to prove anything; I think our guys already believe we can play with anybody. These guys believe in themselves that we can be a club that can contend.”
Even so, the Cubs seemed to bring out the best in the Marlins — especially Fernandez.
“Jose looked early on like he was a little bit of a mission to show that club over there what kind of pitcher he was,” Mattingly said. “He had a really good fastball today. He was able to beat a lot of guys with that, which sets up his other pitches.”
Fernandez’s top speed on the scoreboard radar gun was 101 mph. That came in the fifth inning, when he struck out the side.
Giancarlo Stanton doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth, and Martin Prado hit a three-run double in the ninth. Brian Ellington completed a five-hitter.
Jason Hammel (7-4) allowed two runs in six innings, and the Cubs lost his fourth start in a row even though he pitched out of several jams.
“I had a lot of traffic early in the game,” Hammel said. “I put myself behind the 8-ball.”
Miami was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position before Christian Yelich singled home an insurance run in the eighth. That run was unearned because of a throwing error by third baseman Kris Bryant.
A replay reversal put the Marlins ahead to stay 2-1 in the sixth. With runners at the corners and one out, the Cubs appeared to turn a 5-4-3 double play, but a review determined Adeiny Hechavarria beat the throw to first.
That’s the way the week went for Chicago.
“It’s like a fighter that cut a little bit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You have to keep going.”
Cubs CF Dexter Fowler (right hamstring) is on schedule to return around the time he’s eligible to be activated from the disabled list July 4. “When I talk to Dexter, he seems to be in good order,” Maddon said. “He’s not ready yet, but he’s doing well.” ... INF Tommy La Stella (right hamstring) and LHP Clayton Richard (left middle finger blister) will begin rehab assignments Monday with Triple-A Iowa. ... 2B Ben Zobrist (ankle) returned to the starting lineup and went 0 for 3.
RHP Jake Arrieta (11-2, 1.74 ERA) returns to Cincinnati, where he threw a no-hitter April 21, when the Cubs open a three-game series there Monday. Arrieta has a 0.24 ERA in five night starts this year, but is coming off a loss in his most recent outing against St. Louis. RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.83) is scheduled to start for the Reds.