Back to Where It All Started

The Cubs' final road series of 2006 is at the same site where the season began.

INSIDE PITCH

The Cubs play four games against Cincinnati starting Friday at Great American Ball Park, the place where they opened the year with a 16-7 victory over the Reds. Juan Pierre, Todd Walker and Matt Murton each had three hits on April 3.

It was a promising start to the season, but fast-forward ahead to Friday's action. The Cubs come into the game with a 62-91 mark and are in last place in the National League Central. Their manager, Dusty Baker, could be out of work when the season is over.

Baker said he hates the term "spoiler," but the Cubs have been reduced to that this month. They beat the struggling Reds two out of three game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 15-17, and that help take the Reds out of serious wild-card contention.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • LHP Rich Hill, Friday's starter against Cincinnati, has a shot at becoming the third Cubs pitcher this year to win a National League Pitcher of the Month award, joining RHPs Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano. Hill is 3-0 with an 0.90 ERA in four September starts and has 33 strikeouts in 30 innings. He also threw the Cubs' lone complete game of the season Saturday against Cincinnati at Wrigley Field.

  • RHP Michael Wuertz, who led the Cubs in appearances last year but was demoted to Triple-A Iowa after a rough start this year, is quietly putting together another solid season. He has a 3-1 mark in 36 appearances with a 2.75 ERA that is the best among Cubs relievers.

  • RF Jacque Jones leads the club with 113 strikeouts but is one home run away from tying a career high (27 in 2002) and is nine RBI away from tying a career high (85 in 2002).

  • INF Ryan Theriot has played in just 44 games, but his 11 stolen bases rank second on the club this year.

  • LF Matt Murton is hitting .299 and is trying to become the first Cubs left fielder since Rondell White (2001) to hit .300 or better.
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