"I've never done that before in my life," said Rusch, who drove in seven runs in a victory over Colorado Springs. "Not even in Little League."
Rusch wasn't the only one belting the ball out of the park for the I-Cubs. Outfielder Jason Dubois had a two-homer game on Tuesday (April 27) and a three-homer game three nights later.
--LHP Andy Pratt, who was sent to Triple-A Iowa because of a bout of wildness, continues to struggle in the minors. In Pratt's first three starts for the I-Cubs, he was 0-3 with a 15.00 ERA with nine walks and nine hits in six innings.
The Cubs picked him up in a late spring training deal with Atlanta and hoped he could serve as a reliable middle man in the bullpen. He made the club right away even though he had just one game of major league experience.
"He felt like he had a big chance right away and disappointed himself, me and his father (Class A Daytona pitching coach Tom Pratt)," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's 23 years old with quality stuff and is a good kid. We're optimistic he'll figure it out."
--Cubs manager Dusty Baker was puzzled by his one-game suspension for yelling at umpire C.B. Bucknor after a miscommunication April 16 during a double switch. It was the first time Baker has ever been suspended in his career.
The manager was informed that Major League Baseball felt as if he incited the Wrigley Field crowd to throw garbage on the field during the game.
"I'm trying to figure out how I have all this power," Baker said. "I really feel more a part of Chicago now. If I get suspended for this, me and the people are one."
BY THE NUMBERS: 12-42 -- Cubs' record at Busch Stadium from 1996-2003.
10 -- Games the Cubs have at Busch stadium in 2004.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Bad words have been going on in the dugout for 100 years." -- Cubs general manager Jim Hendry on Cubs manager Dusty Baker's fine and suspension for a tirade against umpire C.B. Bucknor.
ROSTER REPORTPITCHING TRENDS: Cubs starters posted a 1.75 ERA in their first 14 victories and a 6.58 ERA in their first nine losses.
PITCHERS TO WATCH:
--RHP Greg Maddux appears to be back in form after a rough start. After a shaky three-game stretch to start the season, he followed up with two games in which he allowed three runs in 13 innings.
--RHP LaTroy Hawkins did not allow a run in his first seven appearances, but in the next three the setup man gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings and walked home the winning run against St. Louis on April 30.
--RHP Matt Clement is pitching like the ace of the talented staff. In a four-game winning streak, Clement allowed three runs on 13 hits with 10 walks and 31 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.
LINEUP LOWDOWN: After winning six straight, the Cubs went 2-4 in their next six games, and the offense mustered just 12 runs in those games.
POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--2B Todd Walker is cooling off as leadoff man. He was batting .296 heading into this week's action and was 1-for-13 in the Cubs' first three games of the St. Louis series. When regular starting second baseman Mark Grudzielanek returns (he could be back Tuesday), Cubs manager Dusty Baker will have to figure out how he will use Walker.
--1B Derrek Lee, who historically has struggled in April and May before turning it up a notch, was hitting .253 with two homers and 11 RBI in the Cubs' first 24 games. Some Cubs fans are grumbling because Lee was traded for young 1B Hee Seop Choi, who is tearing it up for Florida.
--RF Sammy Sosa had a 2-for-14 skid over the weekend to lower his average to .264 but said opponents have been pitching him strong. "Don't worry about me," he said of his slide.
MEDICAL WATCH: 2B Mark Grudzielanek has a tear in his right Achilles' heel and was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 10. He could return this week. RHP Mark Prior is recovering from an inflamed right Achilles tendon and inflamed right elbow and opened the season on the 15-day disabled list. He began throwing simulated games last week and could be back in June. LHP Mike Remlinger, who had shoulder surgery last October, opened the season on the disabled list and could be back in mid-May. RHP Ryan Dempster (Tommy John surgery last October) is on the 60-day disabled list and might return by the All-Star break. He is throwing simulated innings.