Bob Howry may be winning his way back into Lou Piniella's good graces. Howry pitched Sept. 5 and then not again until Monday in Milwaukee, when he worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Houston Astros in the neutral-site game.
The pop appeared back on Howry's fastball after several weeks in which it was down and Howry was relegated to mop-up duty.
On top of that, rookie Jeff Samardzija has struggled with his command in September, giving up four walks and five hits in four innings pitched. Samardzija, who has played a key role in the late innings since his July call-up, worked by himself in the bullpen Tuesday afternoon, practicing his delivery without a baseball to get his timing and mechanics in good order.
"Howry's got, by far, the most experience," said Piniella, who often defers to the experience factor. "We gave his arm a nice rest, and he responded well. Let's hope that continues. The younger kids, you don't know."
Howry got C.C. Sabathia on a flyout in the seventh Tuesday night before walking Mike Cameron and getting booed by the Wrigley Field crowd upon exiting.
CUBS 5, BREWERS 4: Ryan Dempster picked up his career-high 16th victory as the Cubs moved nine games ahead of Milwaukee, reducing their magic number to four. Dempster gave up seven hits and two runs, both coming on a homer by Prince Fielder in the sixth. Aramis Ramirez, who went 3-for-4, drove in two with a double in the third. Alfonso Soriano hit his 29th homer, a solo shot in the seventh, to put the Cubs up 4-2. Kerry Wood earned his 31st save by getting Fielder on a called third strike with two on in the ninth.
--RHP Chad Gaudin threw off flat ground Tuesday in Arizona as he continues to rehab from lower back soreness. It's possible Gaudin will be able to face hitters in a simulated situation Wednesday. Piniella said Gaudin could be back by the end of the week. He hasn't pitched since Aug. 29.
--RF Kosuke Fukudome is not guaranteed to win his starting job back anytime soon. Mark DeRosa started in right Tuesday after rookie Micah Hoffpauir started Monday. Fukudome has started just three of 12 games in September, and he's hitting .111 (2-for-18) for the month.
"We'll see what we do," Piniella said. "I'm interested right now in putting the best offense that I can on the field."
For now, that offense does not include Fukudome. He went 0-for-2 after coming in the game for defense.
--Ramirez hit a pair of doubles Tuesday, giving him a career-best 41. He hit 40 in 2001 while with the Pirates. Ramirez has 300 doubles for his career.
--Soriano recorded the 600th extra-base hit of his career when he opened the first inning with a double. He homered in the seventh.
--1B Derrek Lee went 2-for-4 with a double, recording his 47th multi-hit game of the year. He had 50 multi-hit games last year. He also has five RBIs over the past three games.
--Dempster needs 3 1/3 innings to reach 200 for the fourth time in his career and for the first time since 2002.
"It's great," Dempster said. "When you have personal success, it's far more enjoyable when your team is doing well."