Cubs closer gets it right on third attempt

CHICAGO -- The third time was a charm for Carlos Marmol, who had it in him to save Jeff Samardzija’s brilliant victory Sunday.

After struggling in his first two outings, including not being able to record an out Saturday, Marmol got yet another chance Sunday and did things as only he could.

That he only got the chance because a Starlin Castro error extended the game and the Nationals' Adam LaRoche took advaantage with a two-run home run only added to the tension.

Entering with a 4-3 lead, Marmol walked Jayson Werth before Xavier Nady popped out in foul territory in front of the Cubs dugout to end it. Marmol pumped his fist as the crown let out something approaching a roar and a relieved sigh at the same time.

Manager Dale Sveum called it a big outing for his closer, but still isn’t saying that the right-hander is struggling.

“With your closer, confidence is everything,” Sveum said. “Sometimes you can throw the ball great and blow a save. You can throw the ball great and give it up in the eighth inning whether they are bloopers or one strike called a ball. Anything like that changes a whole at-bat around.

“You make a great pitch and there’s a blooper. Sometimes it’s not just the guy’s pitching bad either. There has to be some luck involved too sometimes.”

Sometimes you make your own luck. A day after not being able to throw his slider, Marmol appeared to keep Nady off balance with the breaking pitch, getting a weak swing out of him for the final out.

Now that he has a little confidence he’s going to want to keep it. If the Cubs are going to get starting pitching like they have from Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and now Samardzija, he’s going to get a lot more chances to prove himself.