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Cubs avoid Webb's trap in win

Cubs avoid Webb's trap in win

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CHICAGO -- Jason Marquis went up against Brandon Webb, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, for the Cubs on Friday, and it was Marquis who reigned supreme.

Marquis' sinker sunk, his curveball had a big curve to it, and he threw first-pitch strikes. That combination, along with Jacque Jones' two RBI singles and a three-run home run by Aramis Ramirez, paced the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After the game, Marquis (7-5) said there was no intimidation factor in facing Webb (8-8).

"No matter who I'm facing, no matter what situation I'm in, I'm going to pitch my game and focus on what I have to do," Marquis said.

"I was mixing in my offspeed pitches a lot better. I was able to throw them for strikes, so they weren't keying off the fastball and sitting on one pitch like I have over these last couple of games."

Marquis had been in a funk, winning only one of his past 13 starts. Friday's outing was exactly what he needed.

"It's definitely nice. There were a few games I didn't throw the ball the way I wanted to, there were some I did and just didn't get the personal results, but we got the team results," Marquis said. " I worked hard to get back on track and I'm going to keep working to stay there."

The Cubs starter gave up two runs on four hits while striking out three over 7 2/3 innings. The outing was Marquis' longest start since his complete game against Pittsburgh on May 9, and it helped the bullpen get a much-needed rest.

"Marquis really stepped it up," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We had two five-inning games in a row from our starters, and we needed some innings, and he gave us everything we needed and more."

The Cubs are now 7-1 since the All-Star break, and seven games over .500. for the first time since finishing the 2004 season at 89-73.

Piniella's offense was depleted without Derrek Lee, Daryle Ward, and Cliff Floyd, and struggled early against Webb. Lee served game three of a five-game suspension on Friday, Ward was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a right calf strain, and Floyd was out after colliding with Giants pitcher Matt Morris on Thursday.

Piniella had to shuffle his lineup around without three of his heavy hitters, and had Mike Fontenot, Ramirez and Jones bat in the 3-4-5 spots. All three responded, combining to go 6-for-11 with six RBIs.

"It's a different type of lineup that we played," Piniella said. "It's more contact, and a little more speed."

Fontenot walked in the fourth and stole second with two outs and Jones batting. Jones singled on the next pitch to bring Fontenot in, and put the Cubs ahead, 1-0.

Arizona answered right back in the fifth on one of Marquis' only mistakes. Mark Reynolds singled to left to lead off the inning, and came around to score one batter later on Chris Young's home run that put Arizona ahead, 2-1.

In the sixth, Fontenot singled with two outs and stole second, again. Ramirez singled him in and reached second on right-fielder Jeff DaVanon's error. Jones then singled Ramirez in to put the Cubs ahead, 3-2, and give them another two-out run. Sixteen of the Cubs' 27 runs over their last three games have come with two outs.

"It gets a little contagious, believe it or not," Piniella said, of the two-out runs. "It's a confidence thing. These kids are going up there and taking some good at-bats, they're hitting the ball hard and finding some holes. Let's ride this as long as we can."

Jones' hits continued a hot trend for the center fielder, who is 6-for-9 the last two days, and is seeing more action in the second half of the season after seeing little playing time the first half.

"He wasn't playing at all when [Felix] Pie was here," Ramirez said. "When Pie got sent down, he got to play center field every day. He knows how to get it done, and he showed that the last couple of days."

Ramirez gave the Cubs some big insurance runs in the eighth. Ryan Theriot and Fontenot singled before Ramirez crushed a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers. Ramirez wasn't used to having Fontenot in front of him, but admitted that it was fun to hit behind him.

"The guy gets on base," Ramirez said. "Everytime he comes up there, he's [on-base]. It's a nice thing to have."

Fontenot said he was surprised to see himself in the number-three spot, but he just took it in stride.

"I hit three-hole in Triple-A a few times," Fontenot said. "I got some advice from D-Lee today, and it went over well."

When asked what Lee told him, Fontenot joked, "Just hit a couple of singles and steal some bases. I tried to take him up on that."

Marc Zarefsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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