Rookies James Russell and Justin Berg have been good, for the most part. Another rookie, right-hander Esmailin Caridad, went on the disabled list Wednesday with a forearm strain after he had endured several rough outings. His replacement, right-hander Jeff Gray, picked up his first major league win Wednesday right after his call-up from Class AAA Iowa (Des Moines), but he gave up three hits and two runs while doing so.
Piniella used veteran lefties Sean Marshall and John Grabow for much of the first week of the season, with Marshall faring better. Marshall worked in Thursday's 8-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and gave up his first run of the season. Grabow worked the ninth and allowed an unearned run, thanks in part to his own throwing error.
Right-hander Jeff Samardzija went from April 5 to April 12 between appearances. He got another shot Thursday but gave up two runs in two innings.
GM Jim Hendry tried to swing a trade for a veteran right-hander during spring training but was unable to do so, meaning the Cubs and Piniella will have to live with this 'pen for a while.
Piniella said he loved the way Marmol threw Wednesday, when he struck out all three Brewers he faced in the ninth inning.
"In fact, to be truthful, that's the best I've ever seen him throw," Piniella said. "And why? He's nice and rested. He doesn't have to overthrow."
BREWERS 8, CUBS 6: RHP Carlos Zambrano lasted only five innings, and the Cubs bullpen gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) in four innings. Samardzija (0-1) allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh, and he gave up a homer to Ryan Braun in the eighth. Cubs fielders committed three errors, allowing two unearned runs.
--LHP Ted Lilly threw 51 pitches in a minor league rehab start Wednesday for Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa. He worked four innings, giving up one hit and one run. He's on the mend from last November's shoulder scope but recently has been bothered by mid-back muscle tightness. Lilly originally said he'd like to make his next appearance with the Cubs, but he'll likely throw one more rehab start, Monday for Class A Peoria.
"I feel pretty good," he said. "Everything went pretty well. I would have liked to have thrown a few more pitches."
--Zambrano threw 121 pitches in only five innings. He did not throw less than 20 in an inning.
"It was a lot, but I was feeling good," Zambrano said. "They hit too many foul balls today. They hit too many foul balls, and I was 3-2 many times."
--1B Derrek Lee was ejected in the seventh for arguing a called third strike with umpire Angel Campos. Lee homered in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a team-high six games. The homer was his 100th at Wrigley Field. Ninety-nine have come as a Cub. Piniella noted the ejection was uncharacteristic for the low-key Lee.
"That's what I told the umpire," Piniella said. "I told him that doesn't happen very often, if at all. I think the umpire heard a lot from both benches as far as strike zone was concerned. So his tank might have been on full."
--Samardzija has a record of 0-1 and an ERA of 16.20 in three games. Walks have been hurting Samardzija. He has given up five in 3 1/3 innings while striking out just two. The Cubs would like to see him be more aggressive with his pitches.
--LF Tyler Colvin started in place of Alfonso Soriano and went 2-for-4 with two runs and a double. Piniella reiterated that he is not benching Soriano and that he needs to get playing time for rookie Colvin and veteran Xavier Nady.
"I'm just rotating my outfield like I said I was," Piniella said. "Nothing more, nothing less. Let's not read anything to get too excited. I said I was going to give everybody a day off a week, and we're just going through that."
Colvin is 3-for-14 (.214), with a double and a homer.
Marmol Solid; Rest of Bullpen a Mixed Bag
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