John Baker hit a tiebreaking RBI single and pinch-hitter Wes Helms followed with a two-run double, all with two outs in the eighth inning Friday night to lift the Florida Marlins to a 5-2 victory over the Cubs and spoil Rich Harden's 11-strikeout game.
With the game tied at 2 in the Marlins' eighth, Carlos Marmol (2-2) walked Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla. Jeremy Hermida bunted, and Marmol fielded the ball and threw out Cantu at third. One out later, Baker singled to right to bring home Uggla with the go-ahead run. Marmol loaded the bases when he hit pinch-hitter Ross Gload and was then pulled for Sean Marshall, who served up Helms' double.
The Cubs finished July at 18-9, the first time in 11 years they've collected 18 wins in the month. Heading into August one year ago, the Cubs were 65-44 and had a five-game lead in the National League Central following a sweep in Milwaukee. They started play Friday with a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Harden tied a career high with 11 strikeouts but did not get a decision. The right-hander gave up two runs, five hits and three walks, and reached 11 K's for the third time in his career. He also did so June 26, 2008, against Philadelphia, and Aug. 24, 2008, against Washington.
Marlins starter Chris Volstad helped himself with two outs in the second when he hit an RBI double, driving in Jeremy Hermida, who had singled. Jorge Cantu made it 2-0 with his 11th home run, connecting on a 3-1 pitch from Harden with two outs in the third.
But the Cubs tied the game in the seventh. With one out, Aramis Ramirez blooped a single to shallow right, and one out later, Jake Fox smacked his seventh homer, driving the first pitch into the seats in left.
Lefty reliever John Grabow, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday in a five-player deal, made his debut in the sixth and was in line for the win if the Cubs had continued their rally in the seventh. Dan Meyer struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Baker with two on to end the inning.