Samardzija Impresses Piniella

Now it's come to this: The Cubs have a three-headed monster as closer.

The three are right-handers Carlos Marmol, Bob Howry and, perhaps surprisingly, Jeff Samardzija.

"Why not?" manager Lou Piniella replied when asked Monday if Samardzija was part of that mix.

With right-hander Kerry Wood out indefinitely with a blister on his right index finger, Piniella has had to go to a closer-by-committee system, of sorts.

Marmol is Piniella's first choice, although he's been inconsistent of late. Howry appears to have been nosed out by Samardzija, a hard-throwing fastball-splitter pitcher who earned a two-inning save Sunday.

Piniella said he'll have to be careful with how he uses Samardzija, who started in the minor leagues except for a brief stop in the 'pen this year.

But Piniella tends to fall in love with pitchers who make a good first impression, and Samardzija has done that.

"Awfully tempting, isn't it?" Piniella asked.

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--RHP Kerry Wood threw a bullpen session Monday but does not appear close to returning to the active roster because of a persistent blister on his right index finger. Wood is eligible to come off the DL Tuesday, but that won't happen, according to manager Lou Piniella. Wood threw with a protective pad on the finger, but when he tried to throw without it, he experienced pain. He might throw a simulated game, facing hitters, Wednesday.

--RF Kosuke Fukudome did not start against Milwaukee LHP CC Sabathia as manager Lou Piniella continues to pick his spots with Fukudome of late. Fukudome has shown signs recently of coming out of his midseason slump, but Piniella is taking advantage of certain situations to give Fukudome a breather.

--RHP Chad Gaudin, who came over from Oakland in the Rich Harden trade, might be moving into a more important, late inning role. Gaudin earned his first victory as a Cub on Sunday, working a 1-2-3 seventh, and he won again Monday by striking out three of the four batters he faced in the eighth. With RHP Bob Howry being inconsistent of late, manager Lou Piniella might turn to Gaudin more in key situations.

--LF Alfonso Soriano homered for the second consecutive day and doubled. That gives him 19 multi-hit games. Soriano also stole a base and scored three runs. The Cubs are banking on a hot streak by Soriano to enable them to increase their lead in the NL Central.

--1B Derrek Lee had three hits and recorded his 36th multi-hit game. Lee's double in the ninth broke a 4-4 tie. He also singled home the game's first run in the first inning.

--"From a fan's standpoint, it was a playoff atmosphere, the way they responded to things that were happening on the field," manager Lou Piniella said of the 45,311 fans at Miller Park, Cubs fans making up a large percentage of that total. "Pretty good way to start a July series."

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