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Matt Szczur scores on wild pitch as Chicago Cubs rally past Miami Marlins

By Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange
Matt Szczur scores on wild pitch as Chicago Cubs rally past Miami Marlins
Matt Szczur. (YouTube)

CHICAGO -- It's starting to look a lot like 2015 for the Chicago Cubs.

The major leagues' winningest team has restored drama to this season's mix with Wednesday's 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Miami Marlins.

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Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, Matt Szczur scored on a wild pitch to cap a three-run inning as the Cubs (66-41) claimed their second walk-off win in four games and third this season.

Last year, the Cubs recorded 13 walk-off victories en route to 97 regular-season victories and a wild-card berth.

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"We haven't really done that much this year; we did a lot last year," said Anthony Rizzo, who was intentionally walked in the ninth to load the bases. "Hopefully it's a sign of things to come. We know we're never out of a game. You've got to just keep pushing away."

Wednesday's win was the Cubs' seventh in eight games, comparing favorably to a 2015 run of 15 wins in 16 games between July 29 and Aug. 15.

The rally came against the Marlins' normally reliable A.J. Ramos, who entered with 31 saves and suffered only his second blown save in 33 chances.

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"I didn't have command over anything," Ramos said. "Fastball was flying out, changeup was out of the zone, slider was hit and miss. It was pretty rough."

Ramos gave up a leadoff double to Miguel Montero, a single to Javier Baez and walked Szczur on five pitches to load the bases.

Dexter Fowler hit a sacrifice fly to right-center to score Montero. Ben Zobrist walked to bring home Baez to tie the game and Ramos' two-out wild pitch sailed past Miami catcher Jeff Mathis and allowed Szczur to score the game-winner to the delight of another full house at Wrigley Field.

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"The crowd was crazy out there," Montero said. "You just kind of play off the atmosphere out there. It was pretty exciting."

Ramos (1-1) took the loss while Cubs reliever Justin Grimm (1-0), who was brought up from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, worked the ninth for the victory.

The Marlins (57-51) appeared on track for a win after Mathis clubbed a go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh while starter Tom Koehler allowed just one run on five hits.

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But Koehler, who worked an effective six innings in 88-degree heat, was left with a no-decision.

"These are always painful when you have a good shot at winning the game and give it up late," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "It's painful, but it's still a game. We'll just move on from it."

Cubs starter John Lackey pitched seven innings and settled for his seventh no-decison of the season. He allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight.

Lackey also contributed at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two doubles but failed to score each time.

Christian Yelich went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs while Dee Gordon was 3-for-5 with a run to lead Miami.

The Marlins opened the scoring in the first as Yelich doubled to center to drive in Gordon. Gordon reached on an infield single and stole second prior to Yelich's at-bat.

The Cubs were silent until the sixth when Willson Contreras singled up the middle to drive in Rizzo from second for a 1-1 tie. Contreras stole second to place a potential go-ahead run in scoring position but Jason Heyward lined to first to end the threat.

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The Marlins reclaimed the lead in the seventh with Mathis' one-out, two-run homer off Lackey for a 3-1 lead. Mathis' second homer of the year also scored Derek Dietrich.

Koehler departed after six innings, allowing one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out seven.

Yelich made it 4-1 in the eighth inning, greeting new Cubs reliever Joe Smith with a one-out solo home run to right. It was Yelich's 11th homer of the year.

Chicago chipped away in the eighth against Marlins reliever Fernando Rodney.

Fowler scored from third on a ball-four wild pitch that sent Rizzo to first and cut the deficit to 4-2 with none out.

Zobrist's sacrifice moved runners to second and third. But Rodney escaped more damage as he struck out Contreras while Heyward grounded to short to end the frame.

Ichiro Suzuki entered as a seventh-inning pinch hitter but sent a soft liner to Baez. Suzuki, two hits away from 3,000 for his career, ended the series 0-for-3 in three pinch-hit appearances.

NOTES: RHP David Phelps (5-5, 2.65 ERA) switches from bullpen to starter as he opens Miami's weekend series at Colorado on Friday. He'll face Rockies LHP Jorge De LaRosa (7-7. 5.51). ... RHP Jose Fernandez had eight strikeouts in Tuesday's loss and has now fanned a big league-leading and career-high 192 batters this season. ... The Cubs placed RHP Jason Hammel on the bereavement list Wednesday and recalled RHP Justin Grimm from Triple-A Iowa. Grimm had no record and a 4.72 ERA in 45 relief appearances with Chicago. Hammel is 11-5 with a 3.07 ERA. The winning pitcher in Tuesday's 3-2 triumph over the Marlins, Hammel is only the fourth Cubs pitcher to emerge victorious in his first four post-All Star starts with an ERA of 1.50. ... Chicago has Thursday off before opening a three-game weekend series in Oakland. LHP Jon Lester (11-4, 2.95 ERA) meets A's LHP Dillon Overton (1-2, 9.33 ERA) in Friday's opener.

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