Through the years, the confines of Wrigley Field have been friendlier to the Marlins than to its longtime tenant, the Chicago Cubs. It was Wrigley where the Marlins won a pennant in 2003, and it is Wrigley where the Marlins have won more than they have lost, making it one of only three National League ballparks to fall into that category.
With the wind blowing out Tuesday — initially, at least — Wrigley and the Cubs provided the Marlins with the kind of outcome they have not experienced much at all this season: a relatively easy win.
Carlos Lee walloped his 17th career grand slam to move into a tie for seventh on the all-time list as the Marlins cruised to a 9-5 victory over the Cubs.
“It’s one of those things where if you try to hit a home run, I think you’re going to fail 99 percent of the time. I try to drive in run, and I get four [RBI],’’ Lee said.
Lee played a large role in the outcome. Not only did he connect on a fifth-inning grand slam that put his name in some famous company, but he also singled and walked as the Marlins provided starter Anibal Sanchez with more run support than he’s used to seeing.
Among active players, only Alex Rodriguez has more grand slams — 23 — than Lee, who moved into a tie with Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams on the all-time list. A-Rod is tied with Lou Gehrig atop the grand slam list.
The win comes at a crucial time for the Marlins. With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, the front office could make the decision to sell off players if management feels the team is out of playoff contention. At the moment, the Marlins are walking a narrow tightrope.
“It’s up to the players,” said manager Ozzie Guillen in response to the a question about the increasing number of trade rumors involving Marlins players. “If they play good, nobody is going to leave. If they play bad ... it’s part of the business. It’s a big week for us, yes.”
One of the Marlins whose name will likely be mentioned in trade rumors is Sanchez, who is eligible for free agency after the season.
Sanchez likely made a strong statement with scouts who were on hand Thursday.
The pitcher not only turned in one of his better outings in recent weeks, but did so in extreme heat. It was 94 degrees at game’s start. Yet Sanchez made it through seven innings and threw 105 pitches, but also ran the bases in the fifth after he reached on single.
Sanchez was on third when Lee hit his grand slam off Travis Wood.
Sanchez gave up only one earned run to the Cubs, that coming in the fifth when Jeff Baker homered off him. By then, however, the pitcher was sitting on an 8-0 cushion, courtesy of a three-run fourth inning and a five-run fifth fueled by Lee’s blast.
“Maybe the best he’s thrown the ball in a while,’’ Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez also hit home runs as the Marlins remained unbeaten in their four showdowns this season with the Cubs.
The Marlins also handed the Cubs a 9-1 loss in Miami in April for one of their other blowout victories.
The Marlins took a 9-2 lead into the eighth. But the Cubs struck for three runs off Chad Gaudin, who failed to retire a batter. Randy Choate prevented further damage when he induced an inning-ending double play grounder out of Anthony Rizzo.
Following the game, the Marlins optioned right-handed reliever Ryan Webb to Triple A New Orleans and activated reliever Edward Mujca from the disabled list.