Hurricane affects Cubs' plans

Hurricane Ike has thrown a curve at the Cubs rotation, and manager Lou Piniella says he's not sure how he'll respond.

The Cubs were going to go with a rotation of Jason Marquis, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster this weekend in Houston, but at least the first two games have been postponed.

Zambrano's start would have been his first since Sept. 2, when he took himself out of the game because of shoulder discomfort. He threw a bullpen session Wednesday and proclaimed himself fine.

Piniella had his rotation mapped out through the end of the regular season, but an anticipated doubleheader, perhaps Sunday, and further rainouts, could throw all those plans out the window.

"I don't know," Piniella said. "Let's just wait and see. We have time until Saturday to make decisions."

The Cubs will take Friday off and then work out Saturday at Wrigley Field before heading to wherever they're going to play the Astros. That could be Houston, or it could be a neutral site.

CUBS 3, CARDINALS 2: RHP Rich Harden, working for the first time since Aug. 29, pitched six innings, giving up five hits and two runs to improve to 5-1 as a Cub. Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol held the lead for Kerry Wood, who earned his 30th save by getting Albert Pujols on a popout to end the game and strand two. The Cubs got their runs on a bases-load walk to Ryan Theriot, an RBI groundout by Derrek Lee and a run-scoring double by Mike Fontenot.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cubs have four players with at least 20 homers: LF Alfonso Soriano, 3B Aramis Ramirez, C Geovany Soto and IF/OF Mark DeRosa. They also have four players with at least 80 RBIs: Ramirez, DeRosa, Soto and 1B Derrek Lee. This is the third time the Cubs have accomplished that. The other times were 1961 and 2004. The Cubs have not homered since Sept. 6, however, and they've homered in only two games this month.

--1B Derrek Lee went 0-for-5 with an RBI groundout. He also flung his bat in disgust after being called out on strikes in the seventh. He said he is not "feeling good" at the plate. The Cubs will be off for at least two days because of the hurricane, and Piniella said maybe that would help. "That's the worst I've felt in five years," Lee said.

--RHP Rich Harden recorded his fifth consecutive win, matching his career high set earlier this year while he was with Oakland. Harden struck out only three. He had five double-digit strikeout games before shoulder woes sidelined him for nearly two weeks. His fastball topped out in the low-90-mph range, but he said he was concentrating on not walking batters.

--INF/OF Mark DeRosa doubled, but he is only 3-for-21 on the road trip, which gets put into suspended animation Friday. DeRosa has hits in each of his last two games, and he, like the slumping Lee, may benefit from a breather.

--LF Alfonso Soriano walked twice and doubled. His on-base percentage is now .350. He turned in a .337 mark last year, but he has 38 walks in 97 games this year, compared with 31 walks in 135 games a year ago.


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