Big eighth fuels Cubs win

Big eighth fuels Cubs win

CHICAGO – One swing and Jacque Jones stopped the booing. At least for a couple of minutes.

Jones, the newest target for disgruntled Cubs fans at Wrigley Field, hit a three-run homer to cap a six-run eighth-inning Monday night as Chicago rallied for a 6-3 victory over the Florida Marlins.

Does he expect the booing and catcalls to stop?

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “Right now it’s a little tough. I’m not getting very many hits. I’m hearing all kinds of stuff in the outfield.”

Jones, who signed a $16 million, three-year deal as a free agent in the offseason, entered the game batting just .200 and when he made outs in his first two-bats Monday, he heard about it. And playing right field puts him close to the fans in the bleachers.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

“I tried not to pay attention when things are bad,” he said. “It’s so loud and so angry right now. You know what I mean? It’s almost funny.”

Trailing 3-0 after getting just one hit off lefty Jason Vargas in the first 6 1-3 innings, the Cubs broke through in the eighth against relievers Matt Herges and Josh Johnson (1-2).

Ex-Marlin Juan Pierre opened the inning with a double for Chicago’s second hit and Ronny Cedeno worked Herges for a walk. Johnson relieved and loaded the bases by walking Todd Walker.

Aramis Ramirez then hit a chopper to third, but Marlins catcher Matt Treanor couldn’t hold onto Miguel Cabrera’s low throw as Pierre scored on the fielder’s choice to make it 3-1.

“I was going to home plate to make the one out. I thought it was the right choice, but it was a bad throw,” Cabrera said.

It turned out to be a huge play, especially after Florida played solid defense most of the night with some stellar catches.

“I don’t mind him coming home. We’re going to get one out, but he rushed it,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. “We made some great defensive plays. It’s a shame that the little things we didn’t do in the eighth cost us.”

Johnson then struck out Michael Barrett before Matt Murton delivered a tying, two-run single. Jones followed with his three-run shot to left, his third homer of the season.

What does Jones make of the reception he’s been getting less than a month into the season?

“I’m not confused at all. I’ve seen friends go through it. Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs three years and went into a little slump,” Jones said. “They have the right to voice whatever opinion they want to. It’s not going to make me play better, it’s not going to make me play any worse. …

“I got to get used to it and I’m blocking it out as much as I can. It is what it is.”

Carlos Zambrano matched a career high with 12 strikeouts but remained winless in five starts this season because Chicago couldn’t muster any offense until he was out of the game.

“Vargas was dealing today. I knew if I kept the score like that, we would come back. I trust my team. I trust my hitters,” Zambrano said.

David Aardsma (1-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth. Ryan Dempster closed for his fifth save.

Florida took a 3-0 lead on Cabrera’s two-run homer in the first off Zambrano. Josh Willingham had an RBI double in the third.

Facing a Cubs team missing injured star Derrek Lee, Vargas held Chicago hitless until Neifi Perez doubled in the fifth.

With a runner on first and one out in the seventh, Vargas hit Jones with a pitch and was replaced by Herges. He struck out Perez and got pinch-hitter John Mabry on a hot hopper to second to end the inning.

Vargas walked four and struck out two in 6 1-3 innings.

With Kerry Wood and Mark Prior still rehabbing shoulder injuries in Arizona, Zambrano has not been the ace the Cubs need, but he did get stronger as the game went on. He pitched seven innings, allowing six hits, three walks and three runs.