Piniella: Cubs Are Hanging In

The Cubs aren't exactly sitting pretty, but they're well positioned to make a lot of noise in the NL Central.

Friday's game at home against the Astros was rained out, but earlier in the day manager Lou Piniella talked in optimistic tones about his club, which has a record of 21-14 and entered the day just a half-game out of first place.

The key, he said, was persevering through injuries and a collective hitting slump from the middle of the order.

"That's probably the biggest thing," he said. "We've had probably as many injuries to key people as any team in, I don't know about baseball, but certainly in the National League.

"These guys have hung in there. We play hard every day. Our starting pitching has been the key. They've given us chances to stay in games and win baseball games. That's been the key."

Aramis Ramirez will be out for two months with a dislocated left shoulder. Derrek Lee has battled neck problems. And Milton Bradley only now is heating up after a slow start and a groin injury. On top of that, Geovany Soto hit his first home run of the season just this week.

"You probably think to yourself that you wouldn't be a half-game out of first place," Piniella said. "We started getting these injuries and so forth. Our thought was just to stay as close to contact as we can to the league leaders and go from there. And so far, we've been able to do it.

"Put it this way, the wolf hasn't left the scene yet. We got to keep playing."

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