Fukudome May Be Out of Favor

The honeymoon appears officially over between manager Lou Piniella and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome.

For the third straight game, Fukudome did not start. It marked the sixth time in seven games he didn't start, and in September, Fukudome has started just three of 11 games.

This is a potential big problem for the Cubs and general manager Jim Hendry, who signed Fukudome out of Japan last December to a four-year, $48-million contract.

After helping to redefine the Cubs' offense early in the season with his patient approach at the plate and high on-base percentage, Fukudome has fallen completely off the map.

He batted .236 in July and .193 in August. So far in September, he's 2-for-12 (.125). Before Monday, Fukudome had been used as a defensive replacement much of this month. He couldn't even crack that role against the Astros, as Piniella started rookie Micah Hoffpauir in right. Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa came in later as Piniella made lineup changes.

It may be that Fukudome will sit for most of the rest of this season, with the Cubs trying to start over with him in the spring.

CUBS 6, ASTROS 1: LHP Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and wound up allowing one hit and no runs in seven as the Cubs swept the two-game neutral-site series at Milwaukee. Lilly walked one and struck out nine.

Mark Loretta singled to right against Lilly after Reggie Abercrombie reached on 3B Aramis Ramirez's fielding error. CF Jim Edmonds hit a solo homer, and 1B Derrek Lee and C Geovany Soto added two-run blasts.


--LHP Ted Lilly improved to 15-9, giving him three straight seasons of 15 victories. He did it last year with the Cubs and in 2006 with Toronto. "It's important, but once you do that, you want 16," he said. "Once you hit 16, you want 17, and I think my aspirations have always been a little bit higher to try to get a little bit better every year."

--1B Derrek Lee's homer off Houston's Brian Moehler was his first since Aug. 22 against Washington's John Lannan. Lee had been hitting for average but not for power over the last few weeks. Piniella said he believed the two-day layoff caused by Hurricane Ike may have helped Lee. "I'm not going to say I'm back after two games," Lee said. "It's been kind of an up-and-down season for me. You guys probably don't believe me, but I really don't ever get tired."

--RHP Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter Sunday, and Lilly and three relievers combined to allow one hit Monday. Citing the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs said one hit allowed over two consecutive games is a major league record.

--C Geovany Soto hit his 22nd homer, extending his club rookie record for homers by a catcher. He's the first Cubs rookie to reach 22 since OF Billy Williams hit 25 in 1961, the club record for rookies.

--SS Ronny Cedeno started over Ryan Theriot, who got a rest. Theriot was bothered by dehydration last week, and he finished the road trip 7-for-29 (.241). Piniella said Theriot will start Tuesday's series opener against Milwaukee.

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