What's Troubling Lou

The two things bugging manager Lou Piniella most have been the Cubs' defense and walks issued by his pitchers, particularly his relievers.

In Thursday night's 8-2 loss to the Marlins, the Cubs committed three errors, two by Ryan Theriot. The Cubs walked six batters in that game and 10 the previous day in Arizona. In Friday's 8-6 victory over the Marlins, six Cubs pitchers combined for nine walks.

"Larry and I talk about that," Piniella said, referring to pitching coach Larry Rothschild. "We're walking a lot of people. Larry's working on it. He's not happy with that situation."

And Piniella has not been happy with the defense for much of the year, saying the Cubs have been sloppy at times.

"Look, you've got to have good defensive play," he said. "It all starts with good defensive play because, invariably, it helps your pitching be a lot better. So when you're not catching the ball, it makes it very tough. You're going to have to score more runs, and your pitchers are going to have to pitch better. Everything's magnified."

The Cubs tightened things up Friday, with no errors.

CUBS 8, MARLINS 6: SS Ryan Theriot hit his first career grand slam in the sixth inning to rally the Cubs from a 5-2 deficit. RHP Rich Harden lasted only 3 2/3 innings, but rookie RHP David Patton worked two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first major league win.

NOTES, PLAYER NEWS

--Backup C Koyie Hill took groundballs at third base Friday morning, one day after making his first major league appearance there. Hill, who was converted to a catcher from a third baseman in Class A ball in 2000, is the emergency third baseman because Aramis Ramirez's left calf still isn't well enough for him to play the field. Ramirez pinch hit Friday for his first appearance in a week.

--Theriot's four RBIs, all coming on his grand slam, were a career high. Piniella said he wants Theriot to "drive" the ball instead of "aiming" it. Theriot, who hits a lot of balls to right field, pulled the grand slam to left. He maintains he's still an "on-base" hitter.

--CF Reed Johnson snapped an 0-for-12 skid by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Johnson has batted in the middle of the lineup, but he still has not hit a homer or driven in a run this year.

--RHP Carlos Marmol walked the first two hitters he faced but recovered and struck out the next three. Piniella said Marmol had been getting under the ball and "pushing" it.

--RHP Kevin Gregg earned his second save of the season but only his first since Opening Day. Gregg is now 2-for-3 in save opportunities. With the Cubs struggling of late, save chances have been virtually non-existent.

--The Sports XChange

MINORS WATCH

MEMPHIS 5, IOWA 1 (CLASS AAA)

At Memphis, the Cubs (13-9) dropped their third consecutive game Friday. 2B Bobby Scales (1-for-4) provided a solo home run for the Cubs' only offense. Iowa collected nine hits in the loss with LF Jason Dubois (2-for-4) collecting two hits. RHP Jose Ascanio (0-1) started and suffered the loss, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.

CLEARWATER 5, DAYTONA 3 (CLASS HIGH-A)

At Clearwater, Fla., the Cubs (9-12) dropped their fourth in a row Friday. The Cubs collected nine hits in the loss with SS Starlin Castro and 2B Jake Opitz each finishing 2-for-4 and driving in the Cubs' only runs. RHP Andrew Cashner started and received a no-decision, tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings and yielding two hits and two walks. He struck out two batters. RHP Steve Vento (0-3) suffered the loss in relief, allowing four runs (two earned) and three hits in two innings.

BURLINGTON 1, PEORIA 0 (CLASS-A)

At Burlington, Iowa, the Chiefs (11-9) had their six-game win streak snapped Friday. Peoria collected just five hits in the loss with 3B Josh Vitters, including his third double. RHP Marcus Hatley (1-1) suffered the tough-luck loss, allowing the game's only run and three hits in five innings. He struck out two batters and walked two.

--Staff Reports

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