Piniella's Message Heard

Lou Piniella didn't talk long. But he definitely got his message across.

Piniella called a team meeting on Thursday after Houston swept the Cubs in three games and the team had lost six of their previous seven games.

The team responded Thursday with a 10-2 thumping of Colorado and followed that up with a 6-2 victory Friday over the Rockies. Colorado came into the game with a three-game sweep over Milwaukee by a combined score of 36-10.

The meeting didn't last more than five minutes.

"I don't like meetings, I've said that many times," Piniella said. "Just a little positive meeting. Telling these kids to keep their confidence, and at the same time, do what they're capable of doing and keep working hard. Every team goes through some peaks and valleys. I probably needed a meeting here because we've gone through some adversity with injuries and some tough luck.

"I wanted these kids to continue to believe in themselves. Keep having fun. And use your God-given talents and have fun."

CUBS 6, ROCKIES 2: Jason Marquis, who was trying for just his fourth victory since May 9, gave up one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings and left with a 5-1 lead on Friday night at Coors Field. But in the eighth inning, the Rockies loaded the bases with no outs and Bob Howry came in and allowed just one inherited runner to score. Matt Murton hit his third homer in four games in the top of the ninth to give the Cubs an insurance run. The Cubs (60-55) stayed a half-game behind Milwaukee in the National League Central.

--3B Aramis Ramirez (sore right wrist) rejoined the team in Denver on Friday after he received an injection on the wrist on Thursday in Chicago. Ramirez could be available as early as Sunday but it's more likely he will play Tuesday against Cincinnati in Wrigley Field.

--LHP Will Ohman is scheduled to report to Class AAA Iowa on Saturday. His left shoulder irritation required just a few days of rest and he should be ready to pitch on Monday.

--RF Jacque Jones hit a solo home run in the sixth inning against Colorado on Friday. It's the first time he has homered since June 1.

--1B Derrek Lee broke a 0-for-14 skid with a single in the first inning of Friday's game against Colorado.

--LHP Ted Lilly threw a season-high 127 pitches over six innings in Thursday's win, but he said he didn't mind it. His previous high this year was 115 pitches, on July 2 at Washington. "I was happy to get a chance to stretch it out like that," Lilly said. "I like to do that once in a while. When I go out and throw 100 pitches, it won't feel like so much. Unfortunately, I put myself in that position by walking five guys."

BY THE NUMBERS: 2-for-34 -- The Cubs' batting with runners in scoring position when they were swept in three games in Houston on Aug. 6-8.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was creative license. I wasn't in a shower with Thurman. Oh, gosh, no." -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who was asked on more than one occasion about a scene in "The Bronx is Burning" in which he and Thurman Munson were depicted as hiding in a hotel shower together in a comedic scene.

3B Aramis Ramirez (sore right wrist) didn't play Aug. 8-9. The earliest he would return is Aug. 12, though Aug. 14 is more likely.

OF Angel Pagan (colitis) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug 8.

LF Alfonso Soriano (torn right quad) went on the disabled list Aug. 6. He is expected to miss at least a month, although he said Aug. 9 that he hoped to return in two weeks.

C Henry Blanco (herniated disk in neck) went on the 15-day disabled list June 1. He was slowed in mid-July by shoulder discomfort. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Iowa on July 21, but additional shoulder pain was postponing his return. He was going to take a week or two off from game action before resuming his rehab in mid-August.

1B Daryle Ward (left calf tear) went on the 15-day disabled list July 20. He was sent to Arizona for rehab work on July 30. He might be activated during the weekend of Aug. 10-12. RHP Angel Guzman (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He began a rehab assignment July 8.

RHP Mark Prior (shoulder fatigue) underwent surgery on April 24, and he will miss the entire 2007 season. He was transferred from the minor league disabled list to the major league 60-day DL on June 3.

RHP Roberto Novoa (sore right shoulder) has been out all season. He was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list June 6.

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