Piniella Preaching Calmness

Manager Lou Piniella is preaching calm even though the Cubs have vaulted their way into first place in dramatic fashion.

On Wednesday night, the Cubs used a ninth-inning rally to beat Philadelphia and were tied with Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central.

It was the first time the Cubs were in first place all season and the first time they led or shared the lead since they were tied with four other teams on April 12, 2006. And it was the first time they were on top of a division this late in the season since 2001.

But Piniella, who can be pretty fiery when things aren't going well, is downplaying the achievement.

"You can make too much out of first place (in early) August," Piniella said. "We played good baseball to get where we're at. There's so much baseball left to be played. Let's just play one series at a time and one game at a time and keep grinding. First place only matters on the last day of the season."

The Cubs lost 10-6 to Philadelphia on Thursday, but stayed in first place by percentage points because the Brewers also lost.

NOTES, QUOTES

--1B Derrek Lee has just 11 homers this year but is hitting .328 and has been going wild with doubles, with a team-high 32. He had two in the loss to Philadelphia. His last four hits have been doubles.

--C Henry Blanco's rehab has come to a halt after he developed shoulder pain. Blanco spent a week at Class A Peoria to rehab a herniated disk in his neck but will kept out of game action for a week or two. He will continue to practice batting and throwing with the parent squad.

--RHP Kerry Wood (tendinitis in his right shoulder) will be activated from the disabled list for the first time this season on Friday and will work out of the bullpen as a one-inning middle reliever until he gets his strength and endurance back. The last time he pitched in a major league game was June 6, 2006 against Houston as a starter.

--RHP Rocky Cherry, who worked a major league career-high 2 1/3 scoreless innings against Philadelphia, was sent down to Class AAA Iowa and the Cubs will activate Kerry Wood on Friday.

--RHP Jeff Samardzija, a former two-sport star at Notre Dame, was promoted from Class A Daytona to Class AA Tennessee. He had a 3-8 record with a 4.95 ERA with Daytona, but the Cubs brass was impressed with his steady improvement in percentages for throwing strikes and first-pitch strikes.


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