Baker heads 3-run eighth as rising Marlins dispatch Cubs to win 8th in last 10

MIAMI -- In a matchup of the bullpens, the Florida Marlins won.

Three Florida relievers shut out the Chicago Cubs over the final 2 1/3 innings Friday night, while the Marlins scored three runs in the eighth against Carlos Marmol for a 5-2 victory.

Catcher John Baker broke a 2-all tie with a two-out single off Marmol, and pinch-hitter Wes Helms added a two-run double.

The Marlins' bullpen has been a pleasant surprise all season, with an ERA of 3.74, and it's a big reason Florida is in contention in the NL wild-card race.

"Our bullpen has been fabulous," Baker said. "It has been so funny to me that it was the question mark at the beginning of the year, and they have been so strong. When that gate opens it doesn't matter who comes out; I know they're going to do a good job."

Brendan Donnelly (1-0), who has yet to allow a run in 10 innings with Florida, retired two batters in the eighth for his first NL victory. Leo Nunez pitched a hitless ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.

The relievers combined with starter Chris Volstad on a seven-hitter against the Cubs, who had scored 12 runs in each of the past two games. Florida's relievers will get a reinforcement Saturday with the return of closer Matt Lindstrom, sidelined since June 23 by an elbow injury

"I have all the confidence in the world in those guys," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You keep putting them in situations, and they keep coming through."

The Marlins had a laugh at the Cubs' expense, too. As part of a promotion between innings, a goat was brought on the field -- a reference to the Billy-goat curse that has hounded the Cubs since 1945.

"Tasteless," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "Every time we come here, they do some kind of gimmick. I don't know who thinks them up. I mean, when they come to Chicago, we don't fry marlin."

The Marlins have won eight of their last 10 games to surge into wild-card contention, and they were buoyed by the addition of Washington first baseman Nick Johnson minutes before Friday's trade deadline. He's expected to be in the lineup Saturday.

"It was just a good day all around for us," Helms said. "We got a professional hitter, and a professional guy in the clubhouse. It will lift these guys' spirits. It lets them know we're trying to get better and the front office wants to win this year."

The score was 2-all when Marmol (2-2) came into the game in the eighth with a scoreless streak of 8 1/3 innings, but he walked the first two batters. Dan Uggla scored from second on Baker's hit, and Helms doubled to hike his average as a pinch-hitter to .387.

Marmol walked 46 in 50 innings.

"He has walked a lot of people this year," Piniella said. "Because he's so talented, he has gotten out of it, but sooner or later it's going to bite you."

The Marlins won despite striking out 13 times, stranding nine runners and committing an error for the first time in nine games. They also made one spectacular play -- center fielder Cody Ross robbed Mike Fontenot in the third inning with an over-the-shoulder running catch one step from the wall.

Volstad retired the first 12 batters and took a shutout into the seventh, but Jake Fox's two-out, two-run homer tied the score at 2-all.

The hit brought a roar from the crowd of 25,024, with many of the fans clad in Cubs blue. It was the 22nd homer allowed by Volstad, who went 6 2/3 innings.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the second. Jeremy Hermida led off with a single and scored on Volstad's two-out double -- the pitcher's first career RBI and extra-base hit.

"I finally got it in the books," Volstad said. "It might take me awhile to get another one."

Jorge Cantu hit a two-out homer in the third, his 11th.

Cubs starter Rich Harden tied a career high with 11 strikeouts but departed for a pinch hitter after five innings trailing 2-0.

Game notes
After the game, the Marlins optioned 1B Gaby Sanchez and OF Brett Carroll to Triple-A New Orleans. On Saturday, Lindstrom will be activated from the DL. ... Newly acquired LHP Tom Gorzelanny will join the Cubs on Saturday and is scheduled to make his first start for them Tuesday at Cincinnati. ... Before the game, the Cubs recalled OF Sam Fuld from Triple-A Iowa, and RHP Mitch Atkins was optioned to Iowa. ... Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano, who is 0-for-9 against Volstad, was given the night off.