Cotts Seemingly on Short Leash

Cotts has struggled (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

Manager Lou Piniella stopped short of saying he'd remove Neal Cotts as the Cubs' lone lefty in the bullpen, but it's clear the team has a trouble spot there.

Cotts was the losing pitcher in Monday's 10-8 loss to the Pirates, as he gave up four hits and three runs in one inning. Cotts is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA. His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is a high 2.09. All three of the home runs Cotts has given up this year were hit by left-handed batters.

"I don't think any decision's (been) made one way or another," Piniella said before Tuesday's game. "We need a left-hander in the bullpen that can get some left-handed hitters out, and Neal's struggled."

Piniella would love nothing better than to move lefty Sean Marshall from the rotation to the 'pen, but with right-hander Rich Harden on the disabled list, that's impossible right now. However, when Harden returns, that move might be made.

Marshall, who started Tuesday night's game, excelled last year in a role that saw him move back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen.

CUBS 6, PIRATES 1 (5 innings, rain): LHP Sean Marshall worked an abbreviated complete game and contributed an RBI single as the Cubs snapped an eight-game losing streak and returned to .500 at 22-22. The game was halted in the top of the sixth because of rain. CF Kosuke Fukudome homered, and 1B Micah Hoffpauir drove in two, with a double and a single.

NEWS AND NOTES

--Piniella on the Cubs getting out of their funk: "How do you eat a Whopper? You eat it one bite at a time." In other words, Piniella says the Cubs will have to come out of things one at-bat and one pitch at a time.

--Fukudome hit his fifth homer of the year in the first inning Tuesday. The homer came in Fukudome's 39th game this year. He didn't hit No. 5 last year until his 63rd game. Fukudome also walked. He's 9-for-22 (.409) over his last six home games.

--SS Ryan Theriot appears to be rebounding after a 2-for-24 road trip. Theriot had three doubles in Monday's game. Tuesday, he singled home a run, going the other way, something that helped him compile a .387 on-base percentage last year. This year, Theriot's batting average and OBP have fallen as he tries to "drive" the ball more.

--1B Derrek Lee missed his third consecutive game because of flu-like symptoms. INF Bobby Scales did not start for the second straight game because of a similar illness. Lee was doing better, and he was available for pinch-hitting, but Scales was sent home.

--Harden, who is on the disabled list with a mid-back strain, has not begun throwing and may not be ready to come off June 2, when the Cubs open a series in Atlanta. Harden's DL date is retroactive to May 18. For the time being, the Cubs will keep RHP Randy Wells in the rotation in Harden's spot.

--Hoffpauir subbed for Lee at first base and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Hoffpauir now has five multi-RBI games this season.

MINOR LEAGUES

TENNESSEE 8, HUNTSVILLE 6 – GAME 1 (CLASS AA)

At Sevierville, RF Jim Adduci (1-for-3) hit a three-run walk-off home run, his first of the season, to give Tennessee the victory Tuesday. CF Brandon Guyer (1-for-3) also hit his first home run, likewise a three-run shot. The Smokies collected 11 hits with 1B Russ Canzler (2-for-3) and LF Ty Wright (2-for-4) grabbing two hits apiece. RHP Marcos Mateo started and received a no-decision. He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings. RHP Todd Blackford (1-0) got the win in relief.

HUNTSVILLE 7, TENNESSEE 1 – GAME 2

The Smokies (21-23) were held to four hits in the loss with SS Darwin Barney (1-for-3) providing the team's only offense with his 17th RBI, the second most for the team. Barney has reached base safely in 18 of his last 19 games. LHP James Russell (2-3) started and suffered the loss, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out six batters and walked one.

PALM BEACH 3, DAYTONA 2 (CLASS HIGH A)

At Jupiter, Fla., the Cardinals rallied for two runs in the ninth inning off LHP Luke Sommer (0-1) to win in their last at-bat Tuesday. The Cubs (19-20) collected eight hits in the loss with CF Tony Campana (3-for-5, double) tying a season-high with three hits. C Mark Reed (2-for-3, triple, two RBI) added two hits for his second multi-hit game of the season. He drove in both Cubs runs. RHP Andrew Cashner started and went a season-high five innings. He allowed one run and three hits to go with a season-high five strikeouts. The Cubs' first-round pick in the 2008 draft lowered his ERA to 2.41 through six starts.

CLINTON 9, PEORIA 3 (CLASS A)

At Peoria, the Chiefs (23-20) were out-hit, 15-8, in the loss Tuesday. 3B Josh Vitters (2-for-4, walk), the Midwest League Player of the Week for May 18-24, hit his 11th home run and eighth in his last 10 games. CF Kyler Burke (2-for-4, two RBI) added two hits, including his 17th double – most in the Cubs' system. RHP Chris Carpenter started but threw only one inning before a rain delay of over 40 minutes halted play. He struck out the side in his only inning of work and now has 43 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings. LHP Jeff Beliveau (0-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing four runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.

RAINED OUT

At Des Moines, Iowa's (Class AAA) scheduled game against Sacramento was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 5:05 p.m.

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