Cubs Feel Fortunate To Be Where They're At

It seemed surprising heading into Wednesday's game, but the Cubs began the night with the same record (18-14) as they had after 32 games last year. The Cubs finished the 2008 season with 97 wins.

This season, the Cubs have dealt with injuries to all members of the middle of their lineup, a disabled-list stint for their ace pitcher and myriad bullpen problems.

"It's amazing," manager Lou Piniella said of the matching records. "I didn't know that. So when you look at the problems we've had from a physical standpoint, a slow start by some of our players, you got to feel fortunate where you're at. Just got to continue. Continue to win some baseball games."

The Cubs are getting healthier. Despite third baseman Aramis Ramirez being on the DL, first baseman Derrek Lee is back in the lineup. Right fielder Milton Bradley seemingly is over the groin problem that hobbled him. More important for the Cubs, Bradley is swinging the bat well, and they'll need him to pick up some of the slack left by Ramirez's absence.

Piniella was pleased with the work of late-inning relievers Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg in Tuesday's series-opening win over the Padres. One of the main things helping the Cubs is their starting pitching. The Cubs entered Wednesday with 18 quality starts, tied for third best in the majors. Ted Lilly gave them their 19th in Wednesday's 6-4 victory.

CUBS 6, PADRES 4 (7 1/2 innings)

SS Ryan Theriot hit two homers, and LF Alfonso Soriano and C Geovany Soto added one apiece. LHP Ted Lilly turned in his third quality start, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. RHP Carlos Marmol earned his third save when the game was halted due to rain.


--LF Alfonso Soriano's leadoff homer Wednesday was his 21st as a Cub, setting a club record. He had shared the mark with Jimmy Ryan. Soriano now has 53 leadoff homers, tying him for second all time with Craig Biggio. Rickey Henderson is the leader with 81.

--SS Ryan Theriot homered in the first and fourth innings. He established a single-season high with his fifth homer. All 12 of Theriot's career homers have come at Wrigley Field.

"If you watch him take batting practice, he's got a quick bat," Piniella said. "It's just a matter of getting the ball up in the air."

Theriot and Soriano provided the first back-to-back homers to start a game for the Cubs since Eric Young and Ricky Gutierrez did it in 2000.

--INF Bobby Scales hit his first major league home run, a pinch homer leading off the seventh inning Tuesday.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano (left hamstring strain) threw a bullpen session Wednesday, and the Cubs were pleased with the results. Zambrano will pitch in a rehab game for Class A Daytona this weekend, and Piniella said Zambrano would make his next start for the Cubs on May 22 at San Diego.

--Ramirez said he still is experiencing pain but that he's able to do exercises for his dislocated left shoulder, suffered last Friday at Milwaukee. Ramirez is on the disabled list and will be out close to two months. He said it's too early to tell if he will need a minor league rehab stint.

--Bradley extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games Wednesday. He's 8-for-25 (.320) during the stretch.


At Colorado Springs, the Cubs (18-14) collected a season-high 25 hits in the victory Wednesday. C Chris Robinson (4-for-6, double), 2B Nate Spears (4-for-5, three doubles) and SS Andres Blanco (4-for-5, double) each finished with four hits and combined for seven RBI. CF Sam Fuld (3-for-6, double), 3B Matt Camp (3-for-6) and LF Doug Deeds (3-for-4, home run, triple) all added three hits. The Cubs have combined for 45 hits over their last two games. LHP J.R. Mathes (5-3) started and picked up the win, allowing two runs and five hits over six innings.


At Sevierville, RF Jim Adduci (2-for-4, three RBI) provided the game-winner with an RBI bunt single in the victory Wednesday. 3B Marquez Smith (2-for-4, double) added two hits for his third multi-hit game in his last four contests. Tennessee (15-14) used four pitchers in the victory with RHP Jay Jackson starting and receiving a no-decision. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, striking out five batters and walking two. RHP John Gaub (1-0) picked up his first win in relief.


At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (15-17) tallied 10 hits en route to the victory Wednesday. LF Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4) picked up two hits and drove in three runs. Daytona used five pitchers in the victory with RHP Andrew Cashner making his fourth start and allowing one earned run and five hits over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision. He struck out four batters and walked one. RHP Craig Muschko (2-1) got the win in relief, allowing two runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.


At Peoria, inclement weather postponed the Chiefs' scheduled game against the River Bandits Wednesday. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 5 p.m.

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