The North Side Zoo

Off-the-field issues continued to swirl around the Cubs on Thursday. Right fielder Milton Bradley was besieged by reporters after a 5-4 loss to the Nationals and asked about his comments earlier this week about feeling "hatred" and wanting games to end quickly at Wrigley Field so he can get out of the park.

"I'm always the story, whether I hit .500 or hit .100," Bradley said. "Somehow, some way, everything revolves back to me. I guess I'm kind of a big deal or something.

"I'm not getting more into it. I see more and more people coming in trying to make more of a story. It's a dead issue. I'm here to play ball. I came here to win a championship."

The Cubs spoke to Bradley privately about his comments, and he was booed as he grounded out to end the game.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella wanted nothing more to do with the subject.

"We've had enough problems here with injuries and so forth that we don't really need any more controversy of any sorts," he said.

Piniella also reiterated that he has the same desire to manage that he always has had and is fine with people putting responsibility on him for the Cubs' mediocre and disappointing season.

"Look, invariably, when things don't go right, it's always the manager's fault," he said. "You want to blame me? Take your shots. It doesn't bother me one bit."

The Cubs are 9-15 in August and 63-62 overall.


--1B Derrek Lee hit his 25th home run of the season Thursday. It is his sixth season of at least 25 homers and his first since 2005. Lee leads the team in homers and in RBIs, with 86.

--3B Aramis Ramirez homered Thursday and extended his hitting streak to five games (9-for-21, .429). The homer was his 184th as a Cub. He is in 10th place on the team's all-time list, six shy of Hack Wilson, who is ninth.

--C Koyie Hill started Thursday over Geovany Soto even though the Cubs played a day game after a night game. Piniella cited Hill's recent good play. Soto, the Rookie of the Year last year, is batting only .218 with nine homers. Asked if Soto could work harder this winter to get into better physical shape, Piniella said: "I'd like to see him finish strong, first, this year. That's the most important thing. Over the winter, I'm sure that our strength coach will have a nice program for him and a few of the other players."

--RHP Kevin Gregg, recently demoted from closer, tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball Thursday. It was Gregg's third consecutive scoreless outing since he lost his closer's job after an Aug. 17 blown save in San Diego.

--RHP Randy Wells' three-game home winning streak was snapped. Wells fell to 9-7 with a 3.06 ERA. Wells worked 6 1/3 innings as he fell to 9-7 with a 3.06 ERA.

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