Mark DeRosa had three hits, including a solo homer and an RBI single, to back Jason Marquis and lift the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night and remain the only Major League team to not lose more than two games in a row.
"They went out and got the job done tonight," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Marquis (4-3) limited the Dodgers to three hits over 6 1/3 innings. He gave up a leadoff single to Juan Pierre in the first, and retired 19 of the next 20 batters before Russell Martin singled with one out in the seventh. Marquis then walked James Loney, who notched the Dodgers' only other hit leading off the fifth, and was pulled.
Carlos Marmol came in, and struck out Matt Kemp, and combined with Derrek Lee to get Blake DeWitt at first. Lee snared DeWitt's grounder, and flipped to Marmol covering at first in time.
"He's just got electric stuff," Piniella said of Marmol. "He can make a good hitter look bad."
Back to Marquis. It was his best outing of the season.
"That's the type of performance you expect from a veteran pitcher -- obviously not every time out -- but at the same time, [you expect] more consistency," Piniella said.
"I think sometimes he becomes his own worst enemy," DeRosa said. "He sometimes doesn't realize how great his stuff is. When he's on, he's tough to hit. He has a good sinker, he had good command of his slider and his split. He's a good pitcher. He's been a good pitcher in this league."
So is Kerry Wood, who pitched the ninth for his National League-leading 18th save. Who would've guessed he'd be on top of the charts when the conversion to closer began back in Mesa, Ariz.
"I didn't know what my role was going to be," Wood said about Spring Training. "The main thing for me is I feel good when I go out there. The success we've had in the back end of the bullpen has been great. For me, more importantly, I've been able to recover and stay somewhat consistent."
"Kerry's stuff is electric," DeRosa said. "I faced him a couple times. And you step in the box, and one pitch is under your chin and the next one is 98 [mph] painted away. He's got that scare factor. You bring that in the ninth, and Marmol in the eighth, and it's pretty tough to score runs."
There was no question Wood had the stuff. He had limited experience in the bullpen. If there was an issue it was his durability.
"He's responded remarkably," Piniella said. "He's started to settle down now. Early in the season, with two outs, he'd try to get the game over right away. Now he's taking his time and gathering himself and throwing the ball. He's done a heck of a job."
DeRosa, batting second in place of Ryan Theriot, who got the day off, gave the Cubs the lead in the first against Brad Penny (5-8) with his eighth home run. The Dodgers tied the game in their half when Pierre singled, stole second, reached third on a throwing error by catcher Geovany Soto and scored on Jeff Kent's groundout.
DeRosa may start lobbying for that No. 2 spot in the order.
"I saw a ton of fastballs there hitting in front of D-Lee and Aramis [Ramirez]," DeRosa said. "I'm the guy in that situation they want to go after."
He added a tiebreaking RBI single in the fifth, driving in Alfonso Soriano, who had doubled, and scored on Ramirez's double to go ahead, 3-1. DeRosa started the day batting .222 on the road, and went 7-for-20 on the week-long West Coast trip.
"I don't know why -- I'd like to think it's because my dad was here," DeRosa said of finally having success away from home. "It's his first road trip in my eight years in the big leagues, and he gets the chance to see us win some ballgames, and me personally have a decent road trip. Every day it's someone new it seems like, and today I was able to get a few knocks to help us out."
The Cubs can boast the best record in the National League, and have reached 40 wins. They didn't win No. 40 last year until July 1.
"We believe in each other," DeRosa said. "If we get the lead, we feel we can hold it. It's just a bunch of guys contributing and getting it done. I know it's cliche, but that's the way it's going right now."
Sunday's game ended a stretch of 14 games in a row against NL West teams in which the Cubs went 11-3.
Wood has been on playoff teams before in Chicago. How does this year's squad compare?
"It's different," Wood said. "It's a different feeling here. We all know we have something special. We're trying to take advantage of it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.