Cubs Slide Continues

The Cubs finally came home Tuesday after a 4-6 road trip. With a West Coast swing looming next week, manager Lou Piniella admitted this is a crucial time for his club.

"We need to stabilize here at home," Piniella said. "We didn't play well in Colorado. Really, it's a tough place for us to play, and we went in there a little banged up as it was. But we need to stabilize here at home, and the Phillies are a tough opponent. We're going to have to play well against them. In fact, these next two weeks, to me, are going to tell a lot about what's going to happen the rest of this season."

The Cubs are hoping to ride out a few injuries through the end of the month. Pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly are on the disabled list, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been battling a sore left shoulder.

Ramirez has been the Cubs' most potent bat in recent years, and the Cubs are trying to make do with a 1-2 combo of Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley at the top of the order. No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee has carried the club most of the year.

"Our offense this year has been a little bit of a work in progress," Piniella said. "We've been challenged a little bit. Hopefully, we've got a good spurt for the rest of the year."

PHILLIES 4, CUBS 3 (12 innings): RHP Carlos Marmol walked home the go-ahead run in the eighth. After the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, RHP Kevin Gregg gave up a leadoff homer to Ben Francisco in the 12th. RHP Rich Harden worked seven innings, giving up two hits and two runs.


--RHP Jeff Samardzija, who started earlier this year for Class AAA Iowa, makes his first major league start Wednesday night. He worked in long relief Friday at Colorado, throwing 73 pitches. Piniella said he would like Samardzija to throw 80 to 85 pitches Wednesday.

--2B Jeff Baker tied his career high Tuesday with four hits, all singles. It's his third four-hit game. The other two times came when he was with Colorado. Baker is 8-for-14 in his last three games.

--Harden set down the first 16 batters he faced and gave up two hits and two runs in seven innings during a no-decision Tuesday. One of the hits was a two-run homer by Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins in the sixth. Harden hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past six starts.

--Ramirez had a cortisone shot Tuesday on his left shoulder, and he hopes to be play Thursday or Friday. He left last Friday's game at Colorado with soreness in the shoulder, which he dislocated in May, forcing him out for two months. Ramirez said the shoulder gives him the most trouble when he finishes his swing, a finish that's up high. He also said he's resigned to playing in pain for the rest of the year.

--Lilly will throw 65 to 70 pitches in a rehab start Wednesday for Class A Peoria. If that goes well, the Cubs say he could start Monday at San Diego. Lilly is on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. He also is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

--LHP Tom Gorzelanny should be able to pitch Saturday, Piniella said. Gorzelanny left Monday's game at Colorado after taking a batted ball off his right foot. X-rays were negative.

Northsiders Report Top Stories