Baker not Bothered

Since the Cubs have played brutal baseball in the past couple of weeks, fans and some media members are calling for manager Dusty Baker's ouster. Baker said Tuesday that he does not find the talk troubling.

"It's not a distraction for me -- I hope it's not a distraction for my team," Baker said. "I don't like people asking the team about the job I'm doing and all of this other stuff. They shouldn't have to answer that. And they shouldn't have to answer about me and my contract."

General manager Jim Hendry is not going to quickly pull the plug on Baker (who is in the final year of a four-year deal), but it might take awhile before he gives the skipper a contract extension. Despite the rough going, Baker thinks the Cubs will snap out of this slump and contend.

"I've got faith. I think we're going to do it," he said. "And I believe that. I am not just talking. I did a lot of thinking and, man, I've been through some stuff in my life. Faith got me through that. Faith and hard work and belief.

"This is what I'm about. I do my homework. I study. Prepare. Just do the things I know I'm capable of doing."

REPLAY: The Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano threw eight shutout innings, and Todd Walker and Aramis Ramirez each drove in two runs.

The game was marred when a fan threw a baseball from the stands at Jacque Jones. The Cubs right fielder, who has been heavily booed by fans at Wrigley Field most of the year, was doubled off of second base on a liner to left on the fourth inning. If was the third time that happened to him this month.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Ronny Cedeno committed his eighth error of the season Tuesday night and is on pace for 34. But Cedeno also has shown great range and a strong arm, so the Cubs are not thinking of making any changes at that position.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano returned to ace form as he pitched eight shutout innings and struck out eight in the Cubs' 4-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday night. Zambrano (2-2) has allowed just one run in his last 25 1/3 innings.

--RHP Kerry Wood was officially announced as Thursday's starting pitcher against Washington. Wood, who had shoulder surgery performed Aug. 31, will make his season debut after two successful minor league rehab stints.

--RHP Mark Prior, who threw 50 pitches in a simulated game in Mesa, Ariz., on Sunday, could either throw in another simulated game or face Rookie League players on Friday. Prior, who has experienced shoulder soreness all season, still doesn't have total arm strength, but his arm is feeling good, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

--RHP Wade Miller (shoulder surgery) is scheduled to throw a simulated game for the first time Wednesday during extended spring training in Mesa, Ariz.


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