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Willis gets a rookie assist

The Marlins beat the Cubs with a rookie. It just wasn't the one everyone expected.

Brought in after a rain delay chased Dontrelle Willis, Nate Bump worked out of a bases-loaded jam, then let the Florida offense take over. Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Castillo responded with back-to-back homers in the seventh, and the Marlins withstood a ninth-inning rally for a 4-3 victory.

"The kid did a good job coming in," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said of Bump, who was called up from Triple A on June 29. "I threw that kid right in the fire."

Bump gave up one hit, a homer by Sammy Sosa, in 2 innings. Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances, but the Cubs made him work for it.

Ramon Martinez drew a leadoff walk and Damian Miller doubled just inside the leftfield line. Martinez scored on Tom Goodwin's groundout, and the Cubs pulled within a run on Mark Grudzielanek's single to shallow left.

Looper then walked pinch-hitter Lenny Harris, putting the tying run in scoring position. Moises Alou followed with a liner toward second, but Castillo made a leaping grab to rob him of a hit.

That brought up Sosa, who hit a high pop to third, ending the game. It was the Cubs' 10th loss in 14 games.

"You can't go get drunk every time you have a bad game, or you'd be drunk all the time," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "So these are the games where you sit around, you think about it and try not to take it home to your wife and family. They know how you feel.

"I'll find something to do for the next hour or so so I can go home and at least be decent company."

The Cubs' biggest problem figured to be Willis, the left-handed rookie who is drawing comparisons to Fernando Valenzuela with his old-school windup and sparkling record. Willis is 7-0 in his past nine starts with an ERA of 0.85. Overall, he's 8-1 with a 1.98 ERA.

And the Cubs used to have him.

Chicago drafted Willis in the eighth round of the 2000 draft, but they sent him to Florida last year during spring training as part of the deal for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement.

The Cubs managed two hits off Willis through five, putting a runner in scoring position twice. But as the rain started in the bottom of the sixth, they finally appeared to be figuring him out.

With one out, Sosa worked Willis for 10 pitches before doubling to right. Eric Karros followed with a single off Mike Lowell's glove, giving the Cubs runners at the corners. After Jose Hernandez struck out for the second out, the game was delayed.

"I just wanted to stay in the ballgame," Willis said. "I had a mess out there, and I wanted to clean it up."

Instead, Bump came in. He hit Trenidad Hubbard to load the bases but retired Miller on a fly to center to end the threat.

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