Feeling the Heat

Three Cubs pitchers were on the hot seat over the weekend.

Rookie Sean Marshall and veterans Jerome Williams and Glendon Rusch were probably not in deep jeopardy of losing their jobs in the starting rotation right away depending on their performances against the Pirates, but the Cubs were looking for all three to turn things around after rough starts to the season.

Marshall retired the first nine batters he faced Friday night and got into a little trouble in the fourth and sixth innings but still racked up his first career victory when the Cubs won 11-6.

Williams made his first start of the year Saturday after three relief appearances and held the Pirates to one earned run in six innings. But the offense didn't do him any favors, and he was saddled with a 2-1 loss.

Rusch threw five shutout innings Sunday before he surrendered three runs in the sixth, but he was effective enough to register a 7-3 win.

REPLAY: Juan Pierre entered Sunday's game hitting .214, looking for a breakout game to get him back on track.

The lifetime .300-plus hitter hopes Sunday's performance will turn things around. He singled three times, scored two runs and ignited two rallies in the Cubs' 7-3 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP David Aardsma was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to the parent club after Sunday's game and will meet the club in Los Angeles on Monday. Aardsma, who was 1-0 with two saves and 11 strikeouts in seven innings for Iowa, possesses a high 90 mph fastball and figures to give an overtaxed bullpen a break. He likely will work in the sixth and seventh innings.

--OF Angel Pagan was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday after he came out of Saturday's game against Pittsburgh with left hamstring and knee pain after running on a groundout. Pagan received an MRI in Chicago on Sunday and plans to meet with Cubs doctors on Monday to discuss the severity of the injury.

--RHP Kerry Wood, who threw 51 pitches in a three-inning simulated game on Saturday in Arizona, will meet the team in Los Angeles to throw a bullpen session for the coaches and training staff. Wood, who is coming off shoulder and knee surgery, could return to Arizona for another simulated game on Thursday or he could be in line for a minor league rehab start.

--RHP Michael Wuertz was sent down to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday after posting a 6.75 ERA in three appearances. Wuertz, who made a team-high 75 appearances in 2005, struggled in spring training with a 16.20 ERA but still made the club.

"We want to get his arm strength back and stretch him out a little bit," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Hopefully we'll get everything strong again. We're going to need him before the year is over."

--RHP Roberto Novoa, who missed a large portion of spring training due toillness, was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to the parent club on Saturday. He will serve as the team's long and middle relief man, according to manager Dusty Baker.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Home runs that Glendon Rusch has given up to Cincinnati pitcher Bronson Arroyo in two starts this year. Arroyo said that the last time he homered prior to this year was in high school.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:
RHP Kerry Wood (shoulder and knee surgery) hopes to be back by late April.

RHP Wade Miller (shoulder surgery) should be back in May.

RHP Mark Prior (strained shoulder) is throwing on the mound again, but no timetable has been set for his return.

OF Angel Pagan (hamstring, knee) is on the 15-day disabled list.


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