Carlos Marmol carried the blame--again--for Saturday's 6-4 loss to Cincinnati, unable to retire a batter in what became a decisive four-run eighth inning.
But Alfonso Soriano, whose pair of two-run homers could have meant a victory for starter Jeff Samardzija, saw something else at fault.
``It's happened too many times, and not just him but the whole team,'' Soriano said of Marmol. ``Sometimes we don't get the big hit and sometimes we don't get the big out. That's the difference between a first place team and a last place team.
``We play so hard, but we have to learn how to win. It's not only today. We shouldn't have the record we have [11-19] because we were winning five or six games we lost.''
They were winning 4-2 when Marmol (2-2) entered in the eighth for his record-setting 453th appearance as a Cub, surpassing Lee Smith.
But he couldn't find the strike zone--again--walking two and then hitting Brandon Phillips, the batter manager Dale Sveum hoped he could get to ground into a double play.
All three eventually scored as the Reds batted around against Marmol and Hector Rondon--and only had one hit.
``I don't know if he threw one strike,'' Sveum said of Marmol, who has issued 14 walks and hit three batters in 11 2/3 innings.
Yet he and Smith are the only closers in franchise history to have consecutive seasons of 30 or more saves (2010 and 2011), and Marmol has 117 career saves.
``One way or another, he's got to get it fixed,'' Sveum said, though no one has found the antidote the last two seasons.
``I didn't throw strikes. I'm giving people a chance to score,'' Marmol admitted. ``I have to throw strikes and get people out.
``It's tough. It's tough for me, for any pitcher in baseball,'' he said. ``I'm giving 100 percent. I don't think bad things [on the mound]. But I have trouble with the first hitters. I'll try to be better.''
With a $9.8 million left on his contract, the Cubs have no choice but to hope he will.
``We only have seven guys [in the bullpen],'' Sveum said. ``He's got to pitch. One way or another, we have to get him fixed because he has to pitch.
``He's not throwing the ball over the plate. It doesn't matter what pitch is called. He still has stuff, so I'm not jumping to any conclusions, but it gets tough to have confidence with  walks.''
But Marmol is only one of many problems, Sveum admitted.
``Half our losses have been these kind. Turn the switch around [on mistakes] and we could have eight more wins,'' he said, the Cubs with nine losses in games they led at some point.
``Whether it's errors or walks, there's not a lot of clean games in the first 30.''
Samardzija, with two no-decisions in his last two starts and winless since Opening Day, knows his problem-- using up too many pitches early.
He threw 111 pitches in only six innings, giving up a homer on his first pitch to Shin-Soo Choo, then making a wild pickoff throw after walking Choo in the third leading to an unearned run.
``It's simple--it's because you're putting guys on for free,'' he said of Marmol's struggles, and his own heavy pitch counts. ``You have to attack the zone. It's the same for starters as relievers.
``If you don't want it to happen, go deeper in games,'' he added of the no-decision. ``Marmol has done some great things for us. Lou [Piniella] ran him out every day, so you don't forget that--and the type of guy he is and how much he cares.
``I've had my struggles in the zone, too. When he's in the zone, he's unhittable. He needs to know that.
``This team is pretty resilient and we come ready every day to win. We just need to learn from these mistakes and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.''
Marmol not the only Cubs problem
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