'Zona is Next

It was just like a spring training game. The Cubs clinched the National League Central title on Friday and won't play until Wednesday. Yet some of the starters wanted a few swings, so manager Lou Piniella used 24 players, including eight pitchers, in an 8-4 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

"We got out of this series healthy and we got some of our starters a few at-bats, so it was a good day," Piniella said. "Now we look forward to the playoffs."

The Cubs will play Arizona in the Division Series.

"They have a nice young club," Piniella said. "They have good hitting and good pitching. We had some good games with them."

The Cubs were 2-4 against the Diamondbacks this year.

REDS 8, CUBS 4: Jason Marquis, who was tuning up for the playoffs, gave up four runs, Ryan Dempster, who was not pitching in a save situation, gave up four more and the Cubs blew a 4-0 lead. The Cubs finished the season 85-77, which was good enough to win the National League Central.

NEWS, NOTES

--Manager Lou Piniella moved into 15th place for lifetime wins (1,603) and passed Fred Clarke in Friday's win over Cincinnati. The accomplishment was a bit overshadowed because the Cubs clinched the National League Central title that night.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano will start Game 1 of the Division Series on Wednesday. The Cubs' ace comes into the game red hot, having thrown six shutout innings against Pittsburgh on Sept. 23 and seven against Cincinnati on Friday.

--LHP Ted Lilly is scheduled to start Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. Lilly threw two tuneup innings against Cincinnati on Sunday.

--LHP Rich Hill is scheduled to start Game 3 of the National League Division series on Saturday. Hill threw six shutout innings, allowing one hit, in a 4-0 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday. Hill was set to go five innings, but he had a no-hitter through five and was allowed to return in the sixth.

--RHP Jason Marquis, whose next start might not come until next Sunday in Game 4 of the Division Series, pitched in relief on Sunday against Cincinnati and was shelled for four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Seasons in a row the Cubs pitchers could lead the major leagues in strikeouts if they do it again this year. Heading into their final series at Cincinnati, they had 1,188, which led the majors and had a commanding lead over their closest competitors.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously, it's not all me. I would like to think I had a part of all of those. I've always been on good teams." -- Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis, who has played on eight teams that went to the playoffs in eight seasons.


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