CHICAGO -- Given the high expectations and the mounting losses, it's no surprise that the Chicago Cubs let out a sigh of relief.
They needed this win.Sean Marshall allowed four hits and singled in a run, Kosuke Fukudome homered and the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Tuesday to snap an eight-game losing streak on a rain-shortened night.Marshall (3-3) tied a season-high with six strikeouts before the game was called with none out in the top of the sixth following a delay of 1 hour, 2 minutes, and the two-time defending NL Central champions ended their longest slide in three years."It's been tough," Marshall said. "Nobody likes to lose at anything. It's only one game. But the guys are having a good time in there right now. It's a little different atmosphere right now."Actually, it was a familiar atmosphere after a familiar result.The Cubs didn't wait long to pounce on Ian Snell (1-6) after rain pushed the start back 7 minutes, and the result was their first win since May 16."When you're in a situation like that, it's no fun," said Micah Hoffpauir, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.They scored a run with two out in each of the first three innings -- on Fukudome's solo shot in the first, Marshall's single in the second and Hoffpauir's double in the third -- before breaking it open with three in the fifth.With the score 3-1, Alfonso Soriano made a diving catch on Snell's liner to left in the top half and sparked the big rally in the bottom half when he singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw. Ryan Theriot then drove him in with a base hit, and Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot drove in runs with bases-loaded singles that made it 6-1.That was enough for Marshall, who contained a team that had pounded out 34 hits the previous two games against the White Sox and Cubs. But after those big outbursts, the Pirates looked more like the group that got shut out Friday and Saturday across town at U.S. Cellular Field.Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez had two singles after his six-hit game on Monday -- the Pirates' first in 19 years and the second in the majors this season -- and is now 10 for 14 over his last three games.But it was another miserable night for Snell, who is 0-4 in his last seven starts. He allowed eight hits, walked four and seemed to target plate umpire Jeff Nelson afterward."It's frustrating when you throw a pitch there and it should be a strike and it's a ball," Snell said. "Then you get a little confused on where the strike zone is. Then you have to find out where it is. Then you keep throwing the ball in the same spot and you don't get it. So you just keep pounding the same spot and eventually they get a hit or you walk the guy."The Cubs were simply on target and finally showed that "Cubbie Swagger" manager Lou Piniella talks about while ending their North Side nosedive."How do you eat a whopper?" Piniella asked before the game. "You eat it one bite at a time, you don't swallow it whole."Fukudome took a big bite early on, knocking his fifth homer out to right, and the Cubs kept digging in against Snell."Lot of pitches and inconsistent in the zone," Pirates manager John Russell said. "He left a lot of balls over the plate."
Pirates closer Matt Capps likely will miss at least several games with a bruised right elbow after being hit by a line drive during Monday's game. X-rays showed no structural damage. ... The Pirates' Andy LaRoche singled in the second to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and tie a career high he set in April. ... Cubs 1B Derrek Lee was out of the lineup but available to pinch hit after being sent home Monday because of the flu. Piniella expects him to play Wednesday. ... Piniella said reliever Carlos Marmol will be back Wednesday after he went to New York to be with his wife, who was scheduled to give birth to their second child on Tuesday.