Bullpen Needs a Rest

The Cubs' penchant for quality starts ran out over the last few days, and as a result, the bullpen has gotten a workout.

Going into Tuesday's game at Philadelphia, the relievers had worked at least four innings in each of the previous four games. According to the Cubs, that's the first time that has happened since 1999. With a 13-inning game Tuesday, the 'pen had to go 5 2/3 innings.

The Cubs went into Tuesday with 56 quality starts, and they've been at or near the top of the major leagues in that category all year.

Ted Lilly leads the Cubs with 14 quality starts, but he went just four innings Monday in a loss to the Phillies. Lilly was pitching for the first time since July 11 because of a minor knee injury.

Since play resumed after the All-Star break, Rich Harden went six innings Thursday, but the Cubs did not get another start that long until Harden went seven Tuesday. Manager Lou Piniella said the Cubs have to get some deeper performances from their starters to avoid burning out a bullpen that has pitched well in July.

PHILLIES 4, CUBS 1 (13 innings): Jeff Samardzija gave up a three-run homer to Jayson Werth with in the bottom of the 13th. Samardzija walked Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with two outs. The Cubs did not manage a hit after the seventh inning.


--OF Kosuke Fukudome moved from center field to right field and down to fifth in the order as Reed Johnson led off and played center field Tuesday. Piniella gave another night off to RF Milton Bradley, who is scheduled to start Wednesday. Bradley continues to work with Piniella on his left-handed swing. He grounded out as a pinch hitter Tuesday.

--Harden did not get a decision Tuesday, but he pitched seven innings, giving up four hits and one run. During night games, he's 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA, having given up 11 earned runs in 44 1/3 innings. He has a 2.03 ERA on the road, compared with a 7.59 ERA at Wrigley Field. He gave the Cubs their 57th quality start of the season.

--3B/OF Jake Fox fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle Monday. Fox hit his fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot, in the sixth inning. He hit his eighth double of the season.

--Lilly apparently came through Monday's start with no ill effects from his inflamed left knee, which delayed his scheduled start by two days. Lilly is scheduled to start Saturday at Wrigley Field against the Reds.

--RHP Ryan Dempster may be able to pitch as soon as July 30, as his broken right big toe continues to show satisfactory progress. Dempster, who has been on the disabled list since July 7, will have the toe X-rayed Thursday in Chicago. If that turns up no further trouble, Dempster could throw a 50-60 pitch simulated game over the weekend.

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