CHICAGO -- The Cubs made a point of playing against this year's early storylines with a 6-3 comeback win Tuesday against the Brewers on a frigid night at Wrigley Field.
Carlos Marmol pitched well in relief, and got the win. The Cubs batters hit, and did so with runners in scoring position and in key situations. And for one night, at least, those antagonistic narratives could be muted.
"Everything came together at the end," said Scott Hairston, who delivered the winning pinch-hit sac fly in the eighth. "We really needed that, I think. We did our jobs, collectively, as a team. Offensively and defensively, and pitching came through at the end. That's what we needed."
Chicago entered the night next-to-last in the Majors with a .186 batting average. They had hit just 6-for-44 (.136) with runners in scoring position, an issue that players and manager Dale Sveum spoke about before the game.
But after Brewers starter Wily Peralta froze the Chicago bats like the Windy City temperatures Tuesday, first baseman Anthony Rizzo was able to deliver in the seventh.
The Cubs' first two runs of the game -- after they found themselves in an early 3-0 hole because of some faulty glovework -- came on groundouts when they could not deliver a big hit with men on second and third and one out. But after Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called for lefty Michael Gonzalez to face the left-handed Rizzo (who entered the night 0-for-6 against southpaws), Rizzo laced a double to right field to score David DeJesus.
Marmol entered next, to pitch the eighth, to the same boos the Wrigley faithful offered him in the home opener Monday. But he delivered Tuesday with a scoreless inning that was held up by a diving play in the hole by Starlin Castro, with Jean Segura standing on third base.
"I thought it was a base hit when I hit it," said the victimized Yuniesky Betancourt. "Maybe saved the game."
It was a play at redemption for Marmol. And, too, for Castro, who was largely responsible for the Brewers' three-run second inning. In that frame, he threw two balls away (one was ruled an error) and could not execute a forceout on a third.
The chilly conditions -- it was 39 degrees at the time of the first pitch and 31 with the chill generated by 23-mph winds -- made for haphazard playing conditions.
"Unbelievable," Castro said. "I've never been cold like that."
Said Sveum: "Maybe we're better as the cold gets in."
Once the Cubs got the runners-in-scoring-position monkey off their back, a late-innings win felt inevitable. Brewers reliever John Axford's baffling struggles continued -- he now has two losses in as many games this week, and an ERA of 24.30 -- as he finished the seventh and returned for the eighth.
Nate Schierholtz doubled to lead it off, Axford walked two batters and Alfredo Figaro surrendered the sac fly to Hairston. A DeJesus two-run single one batter later topped it off, and newly minted closer Kyuji Fujikawa earned his second save of the year in his first appearance at Wrigley. Even on the chilly night, he said, the announced crowd of 30,065 made the historic park feel that much more alluring than during the winter trip on which the Cubs wooed him.
"Just the team winning," Fujikawa said. "This is big for us."