Marmol touched up, Cubs beat Reds

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Marmol touched up, Cubs beat Reds

MESA, Ariz. (AP) At least Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo and Chicago Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol have plenty of time to work out the kinks.Arroyo was hit hard and Marmol also struggled during Chicago's 8-6 exhibition victory over Cincinnati on Monday.Arroyo pitched two innings and was charged with four runs and six hits, including a monster home run by Alfonso Soriano. The crafty right-hander, who was 9-12 with a 5.07 ERA last season, struck out one and walked two."I faced 12 batters and they squared up six balls and the other balls they didn't square up were base hits and the umpire gave me a strike three that wasn't even a strike," said Arroyo, who is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in five spring innings. "That's not a good outing."Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't seem too concerned."Arroyo's velocity was better," Baker said. "He didn't have location today. He'll get better. When (Arroyo) had problems last year it was walks and home runs. That's what got us today."But there was some good to come out of it."It was a struggle out there, even physically I didn't feel real lively," Arroyo said. "It is nice sometimes to get runners on base in situations where you have to press in a real game. Where you have to dig deep and have to throw a fastball on the outer half to a lefty when you feel like you don't have great command."That feeling is something that needs to be worked through."Marmol was touched up for the second outing in a row and knocked over a garbage can in the clubhouse after he left the mound. He gave up three runs and two hits in one inning.The right-hander, who blew 10 save opportunities last season and finished with a 4.01 ERA, also was hit hard against Seattle on Thursday, when he yielded four earned runs and four hits while recording just two outs.Cubs starter Paul Maholm, who had the flu early in camp, made his spring debut and allowed one run and two hits in two innings. The left-hander, who signed with Chicago over the winter, struck out one and walked none."It was good," Maholm said. "I was happy to get out there. You don't feel part of (spring training) until you get out there. I wish I would have gotten ahead of a few more guys. There were no walks and I was aggressive."I was good to go and I pitch when they tell me to. If they want me to take it a little slower that is fine. I got my bullpens in so as far as pitches and innings I am where I need to be."Todd Frazier homered in the second inning for the Reds. Zack Cozart and Donald Lutz had two RBIs apiece.The Cubs got another big day from Joe Mather, who is battling Tony Campana for the fifth outfield spot. Mather hit a three-run home run in the seventh to give Chicago a 7-6 lead and is batting .545 (6 for 11) this spring.Soriano belted his fourth spring homer, and reserve catcher Blake Lalli also went deep for the Cubs.

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Catch first pitch at 6 p.m. with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA)

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David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

CHICAGO — David Ross got fired up when Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked to the mound with two out in the seventh inning, ready to argue for Jon Lester to stay in the game.

Maddon and Lester had a different plan.

"Joe looked at him and said 'Have you ever been a part of where the catcher gets taken out of the game before the pitcher?'" Lester said, describing the scene with a big grin. "You can just see him, it's like the kid at the candy store when you tell him he can pick out whatever he wants.

"It was just like the disbelief in his face and slams his mask back over his face and all he can say is 'I love you guys. I love you guys. I love you guys.'"

Ross then walked off to another standing ovation from a raucous crowd of 40,859 at Wrigley Field, part of a heartwarming Sunday night for the backup catcher in his last season. He also hit his 10th homer and teamed with Lester for another scoreless performance, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was an amazing night," Ross said.

Ben Zobrist had three hits and scored two runs as Chicago finished with a major league-best 57-24 home record. It's the most home wins for the Cubs since they went 58-19 at the West Side Grounds in 1910.

The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, wasting a chance to improve their playoff positioning. They remain a half-game back of San Francisco for the second NL wild card after the Giants lost 4-3 at San Diego earlier in the day.

"I think we're in a good position right now," pitcher Carlos Martinez said through a translator. "I also think we have a great shot at winning the World Series."

Ross, Lester's regular catcher, was greeted with a long standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina walked halfway to the mound, forcing the unassuming Ross to take in the moment, and he took off his batting helmet to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

Ross then struck out, but he got another chance in the fifth and drove Martinez's second pitch over the wall in left for 1-0 lead. Ross clapped his hands as he rounded first on his 10th homer and the cheers continued after he reached the dugout, prompting a curtain call.

"It was just fitting that David would hit a home run, isn't it?" Maddon said. "I mean it had to have happened tonight."

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Lester (19-4), one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving to 10-0 with 1.34 ERA in his last 13 starts.

It was Lester's idea to pull Ross in the middle of an inning.

"He's like a brother to me and for him to give me that was pretty cool," Ross said.

The Cardinals pulled within one on Jhonny Peralta's two-out RBI single in the eighth, but Brandon Moss flied to center with runners on the corners. Willson Contreras responded with an RBI single in the bottom half and Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 16th save with the NL Central champions and No. 36 on the year.

Martinez (15-9), pitching with a heavy heart after the death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked four.

"He had lots of juice," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's probably the hardest sinker I've ever seen him throw. A couple of those were 97 (mph). He was locked in. He wanted it bad today, and he was good enough for us to win."