Inside Pitch: "Progress"

Wade Miller solid in recent start

Wade Miller threw five solid innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon.

That's viewed as progress by the Cubs.

The veteran, who is coming off shoulder surgery a year ago, made his second start with the Cubs and allowed two runs on one hit (a Marlon Anderson home run). In his first appearance in Atlanta last Saturday, he gave up four runs in three innings.

The Cubs had hoped he could rebound from the surgery quickly and pitch by May. But it took longer than expected, and the Cubs now hope he can make a few more starts to see if he could be in the rotation in 2007.

"We want a true evaluation on what we have on our hands for next year and the future," manager Dusty Baker said. "You want to see arm strength and more endurance. He's come a long way just to be on the mound, period. That's a big plus in itself. He's worked hard to get to this point.

"Hopefully the investment that the Cubs made in him at this point will pay off."

REPLAY: Aramis Ramirez hit the triple-digit mark in RBIs when he hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning of a 6-5 Cubs victory over the Dodgers on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs beat the Dodgers two out of three games for their first series win since Aug. 14-16.

Manager Dusty Baker chose setup man Bobby Howry over struggling closer Ryan Dempster to nail down the save in the ninth inning. Howry has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances. Dempster allowed 10 runs in his last nine appearances.

"There's nothing to look into -- Bobby's pitching better right now," Baker said.

"I go in and pitch when they tell me to pitch," Howry said.

Dempster had no comment.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • SS Cesar Izturis, who has been battling a right hamstring injury most of the season, felt a tweak in that area Wednesday night and sat out the start Thursday, although he came in to play in the ninth inning after Ryan Theriot cut his right middle finger. The Cubs hope Izturis can return for Friday's game against Cincinnati.

  • 1B John Mabry, who rolled on his left hand on a defensive play Wednesday, stayed in the game but on Thursday went to the hospital for X-rays and an MRI exam. Both were inconclusive. He had a CT scan later in the day, and the results won't be revealed until Friday.

  • C Michael Barrett, who is out with an intrascrotal hematoma, still believes he can return to the Cubs in the final week of the season. He took a foul ball to the groin on Sept. 2 and needed surgery that night.

  • RHP Carlos Zambrano (lower back spasms) had hoped to return to the mound this weekend, but the Cubs announced their rotation against Cincinnati and he is not in the plans.

  • LHP Glendon Rusch, who is hospitalized with a blood clot in his right lung, talked to manager Dusty Baker on Thursday. Baker said Rusch is still in pain and is having trouble breathing.
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