Ike Presents Catch-22 for Cubs

Lou Piniella (AP)

Hurricane Ike is a double-edged sword for the Cubs. On one hand, they're able to give some of their slumping players, such as first baseman Derrek Lee, a much-needed rest.

On the other, an anticipated doubleheader may force at least one starting pitcher to come back on short rest.

Right-handers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden already are on short leashes because of the shoulder problems they've faced in the last month. That could put pressure on the remainder of the rotation.

Manager Lou Piniella is hesitant to use left-hander Sean Marshall as a sixth starter because he needs Marshall for the middle of the bullpen, with Neal Cotts being the only other left-handed reliever.

There are no easy games left on the schedule. The Cubs face Houston on the road and then come home to play Milwaukee and St. Louis before finishing the season at New York and Milwaukee.

Once play resumes, Piniella's task will be to keep the pedal to the metal while trying to preserve his players for an expected run at the postseason. Fortunately for the Cubs, they have a comfortable lead in the NL Central.

CUBS-ASTROS SERIES MOVED TO MILWAUKEE: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced tonight that two of this weekend's scheduled games between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros, which had been scheduled to be played at Minute Maid Park in Houston, have been moved to Milwaukee's Miller Park due to the effects of Hurricane Ike. The games will be played at 7:05 p.m. Central Time on Sunday evening and 1:05 p.m. Central Time on Monday afternoon. The Astros will be the home club. The third game of the series, if necessary, will be played in Houston on Monday, September 29th.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Kerry Wood notched his 30th save of the season in Thursday's series finale at St. Louis. He is the ninth player in club history to record a 30-save season but the first to reach 30 without having previously recorded even a save opportunity in a previous season. Wood and RHP Ryan Dempster are the only two Cubs pitchers to have a 30-start season and a 30-save season.

--RHP Rich Harden is 5-1 in 10 starts with the Cubs this year. He has allowed 11 earned runs in 60 innings since coming to the Cubs from Oakland last month. His 1.65 ERA is third lowest by any pitcher over his first 10 starts for the Cubs.

--As bad as he has looked, 1B Derrek Lee is batting .282 (11-for-39) in September with three doubles and five RBIs. However, his on-base percentage is .333 for the month and his slugging is .359. Lee had five extra-base hits in August.

--3B Aramis Ramirez is experiencing a power outage. He has not homered since Aug. 28. For September, he's batting .270 (10-for-37), but his OBP is only .289.

--CF Jim Edmonds is losing playing time to both Reed Johnson and Felix Pie. Johnson, a right-handed batter, started Thursday against Cardinals RHP Todd Wellemeyer. Pie picked up one start in the series at St. Louis. Edmonds is 3-for-14 with homer this month. Manager Lou Piniella did acknowledge that the 38-year-old Edmonds has given the Cubs all he's got since signing with them in May.

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