Crunch Time

Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly will pitch Tuesday and Wednesday on three days' rest.

The two Cubs pitchers are being set up not only for this week but next week as well while the Cubs continue to participate in a hotly contested National League Central race.

Zambrano said he had never pitched on three days of rest before.

"I don't know what to expect," Zambrano said. "I'll let you know how it goes on Tuesday. It's my first time doing this. But I like to pitch. I might be better with a day less of rest. I know my arm and I know my body. I think it will work out. You have to do it in the playoffs and World Series."

Manager Lou Piniella does not see this as a risk.

"We've got the pitching set up for the last dozen games of the year and are matching them up against teams like we feel like we should, and this is our only option," Piniella said. "We don't feel like we have any other options. If we have to adjust, we'll adjust because we have days off later on.

"They are both healthy enough. Their pitch counts have been good. I talked to both pitchers about this. They are both very comfortable with it. There's no gamble to this. We shorten them up. And then the next time out they have their sixth day. Toward the end of the season you want to pitch your best pitchers, right? That's exactly what we're doing."

CUBS 7, REDS 6: The Cubs trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Aramis Ramirez tripled home two runs and Mark DeRosa (5-for-5) brought home pinch runner Sam Fuld with an infield hit. The Cubs stayed a game ahead of Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Ryan Theriot, who was given Sunday off to rest what manager Lou Piniella called a "loose" right ankle, was back in the lineup.

--LHP Rich Hill was attempting to be the fourth pitcher on the staff with double-digit victories but instead picked up a no-decision when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up four runs.

--RF Cliff Floyd, who headed into action on Sept. 12 with just five homers, hit four in the next seven games, including one Monday night.

--2B Mark DeRosa went 5-for-5, his fifth hit driving in the winning run in the ninth inning. He also had a 5-for-5 game against the Reds on Aug. 16.

--RHP Jason Marquis, who won his 12th game of the season on Sunday against St. Louis, has been on seven straight teams that made it to the postseason from 2000-06, with Atlanta and St. Louis.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3,000,000 -- Fans who have attended games at Wrigley Field in the first 75 dates of the season. It's the quickest the Cubs have drawn that many customers and it's the fourth straight year they hit the 3-million mark.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You start seeing commercials for the postseason. I watched a piece on Jeff Bagwell and his career and getting to the World Series (in 2005). It fires you up. You're sitting in your hotel room and you know you're playing for something. You have a chance to do something special." -- Infielder Mark DeRosa, on playing meaningful games in September.

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