MIAMI (AP) - When left fielder Alfonso Soriano casually fielded a routine single and lobbed the ball in, Donnie Murphy kept running and turned the hit into a double.
So it goes for the Chicago Cubs, who are struggling to do anything right. Their losing streak reached four games Wednesday night with a 9-1 loss to the Miami Marlins.
The Cubs fell to 3-9 and again looked feeble at the plate, mustering only six hits. Matt Garza (1-1) took a pounding, and manager Dale Sveum said the offensive woes may be contagious.
``It's tough on pitchers knowing they have to be perfect all the time,' Sveum said.
Emblematic of the Cubs' performance was Soriano's lackadaisical effort during Miami's three-run sixth inning. Murphy reached second without even drawing a throw.
``We have to get the ball into second base,' Sveum said. ``Sori knows that, and he knows he made a mistake and took something for granted there.'
Garza, who pitched 8 2-3 shutout innings in his last outing, lasted only five-plus frames this time. He allowed seven hits and six runs, including homers by Murphy and Hanley Ramirez.
``I'm not happy with it, not happy at all,' Garza said. ``I left a couple of pitches where they could hit them a long way.'
The Cubs went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They hit into two double plays and have grounded into six in the series. They've scored a total of seven runs in the past four games.
``I'm not going to say I'm not concerned,' Sveum said. ``It's tough to score runs when you don't have slugging percentage and don't get people on base.'
One bright spot: Marlon Byrd had a single and hiked his average this season to .081 (3 for 37).
Familiar Cubs foil Mark Buehrle (1-2) pitched eight innings for his first victory with Miami. Buehrle, one of the Marlins' offseason All-Star acquisitions, allowed one run and six hits while pitching at Marlins Park for the first time.
He also had an RBI single, only the sixth career hit for the longtime American Leaguer.
``I love hitting, but I hate it because I'm terrible,' Buehrle said. ``I'm here to pitch and get outs.'
Jeff Baker doubled and scored the only run off the left-hander.
``He had his A Game,' Baker said. ``He threw all his pitches for strikes, different speeds - even his fastball. He got a lead and kept attacking.'
Ramirez put the Marlins up 4-0 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. He started the season slowly, but in the past four games has gone 9 for 16 with nine RBIs to hike his average from .133 to .283.
Ramirez hit a walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning Sunday, and broke an eighth-inning tie with a three-run homer in Tuesday's victory. He has four homers after hitting only 10 last year, when he struggled with injuries and a prolonged slump.
With the retractable roof open for the second night in a row, Murphy put Miami ahead with a two-run homer in the third. The hit came in his fourth at-bat this season.
The Marlins didn't homer until their 31st inning in the new ballpark. They now have five home runs at home and six on the road.
``The way we're swinging the bat right now, I'm very excited,' manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``If we swing the bat the way we can, the ball goes out of the ballpark.'
Miami improved to 2-0 since Guillen returned from a five-game suspension.
Notes: Murphy played in place of 2B Omar Infante, who was held out of the starting lineup because of a sore groin that has bothered him for several days. He's also expected to sit out Thursday. ... Ramirez committed his first error since moving to 3B. ... The last time Ramirez homered in three consecutive games was in early May 2010. ... Garza had won five consecutive decisions dating to last season. ... Buehrle improved to 6-4 in 14 starts against the Cubs. ... Attendance was 25,723.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved