Phils Face Wild-Card Competitor Cubs in Chicago

The Phillies and Cubs have both suffered injuries to their pitching staffs and in many fans eyes, have underachieved this season. While the Phillies hopes of a division title seem more realistic than those of the Cubs, the two teams are also keeping an eye on the wild card standings where they're close competitors. All that, plus, Greg Maddux goes for career win number 300 on Sunday.

For a team that had its eye on a World Series title, the Cubs are not giving up on trying to win the National League Central.

But when they dropped a two-game series to first-place St. Louis at Wrigley Field to fall 10 games behind the Cardinals - with no more head-to-head games against them - they realize it's going to be tough.

"We're not conceding anything," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Yet, Baker is also bracing for the possibility of not catching the Cardinals. And a wild card bid is a possibility.

"Right now, we're looking at the division but I've got my eye on getting to the dance any kind of way we can get there," Baker said. "You don't want to think this at this point but we're still in a great position even if we get to the playoffs as a wild card. We're still in great position. Don't forget, it's the top four teams."

The past two World Series champions - Anaheim and Florida - were wild card teams, and Baker took San Francisco to the 2002 World Series as a wild card club.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry pointed out that there are no guarantees for a wild card, either.

"I don't think you have to worry about either one," Hendry said. "You just have to try to win as many games as you can. You can't worry about the Cardinals. They've played by far the best baseball in the big leagues. They deserve to be where they're at. You can't assume they're going to stumble drastically. And you can't assume you're going to win 26 out of 30."

"But it's possible to get hot and get a streak going. You don't give up, but you don't worry about anything but winning as many as you can."

  • RHP LaTroy Hawkins blew up at umpire Tim Tschida in a recent game and had to be restrained by Cubs manager Dusty Baker and four coaches.

    "Do I regret it? No. Why?" Hawkins said after the game. "I talked to him like a man. It didn't work. He threw me out of the game. I didn't curse at him. I didn't yell at him."

    Hawkins looked like he was ready to attack the umpire.

    "Do you think I would hit him?" Hawkins said. "I wasn't going to hit him. But I was mad."

    Hawkins was given a three-game suspension by Major League Baseball, which he immediately appealed.
  • RHP Carlos Zambrano, who gestures after strikeouts and occasionally gets into verbal wars with umpires and opponents, was targeted by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa as someone who "crossed the line" last week when the two teams met in a heated game.

    "I don't know what the line is in baseball anymore," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys have been watching (homerun) balls for a number of years and doing things you didn't do when I was playing.

    "What's etiquette anymore in sports? Dancin' and beating your chest? I don't know. Guys on the other side don't take exception like they used to. No matter what I say, it's not going to stop."

    Zambrano was suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting Jim Edmonds with a pitch and he appealed the decision.
  • Michael Barrett, who is usually one of the most even-tempered players on the club, had to be restrained by umpire Joe Brinkman as he screamed at players in the St. Louis dugout after pitcher Carlos Zambrano yelled at Jim Edmonds after a homerun.

    "I hate for anything for like that to ever happen," Barrett said. "But this game was important. I didn't know if their bench was clearing. I was keeping an eye on the situation.

    "When I was looking over at that dugout, one of their players asked me what I was looking at. I got a little irritated at that. Unfortunately I didn't react the way I could have. I sort of erupted. I apologize for the reaction. It was the heat of the moment. Unfortunately these things happen."
  • Greg Maddux and his search for his 300th win seem to be rejuvenated. Maddux beat Milwaukee Tuesday for win number 299 and goes after 300 Sunday against the Phillies. Maddux threw back-to-back complete games in a recent span leading up to the pursuit of his 300th career victory.
HE SAID WHAT? "You know what? If you don't come to me to tell me how good it is, then don't come to me and tell me how bad it is." - Cubs television analyst Steve Stone on recent grumblings from players and coaches that he is being too critical on the air.

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