Piniella Looking For More Contribution
Hill had a big hit Friday (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
Hill had a big hit Friday (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

Posted May 30, 2009


The Cubs are really feeling the effects of having third baseman Aramis Ramirez out of the lineup. Ramirez has been lost since early May with a dislocated left shoulder. He's likely out until around the All-Star break.

With Ramirez on the disabled list, the Cubs have been struggling to score runs, especially with men on base. In the first two games against the Dodgers, they were a combined 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

"Look, when we hit with men in scoring position, we hit," manager Lou Piniella said. "What am I going to do about it? Relax and swing the bat."

The Cubs will need to start getting more production from the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto.

"It's a team," Piniella said. "Look, we can all make excuses for everything. Certainly, the injury to Ramirez, what it does to us is it makes us a little more vulnerable at the end (of the batting order). But look, if you just depend on one, two or three players in your lineup to hit, you're going to struggle. You need contribution.

"Obviously, you're going to get more contribution from certain people, but everybody's got to contribute. When we've won baseball games here this year, we've done just that. When we haven't, then it's been more of a struggle for us."

CUBS 2, DODGERS 1: LHP Ted Lilly tossed seven innings, giving up four hits and a home run to Matt Kemp. C Koyie Hill tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer in the seventh, and OF Kosuke Fukudome drove in the game-winner with a sacrifice fly later that inning.

“We got a couple of runs in the seventh inning. We got Ted Lilly a nice deserving win. He pitched very well,” Piniella said. “There have been two 2-1 ballgames so far in this series. Good pitching on both sides.

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle to score runs, but look, we’re 1-1 against a very good team and we’ll see what happens (Saturday) and Sunday,” Piniella added.

NEWS AND NOTES

--Lilly improved to 6-4 by beating the Dodgers on Friday. He leads the Cubs in wins and in quality starts with seven. At home, he’s 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA. He was won 11 of his last 15 decisions overall at Wrigley Field.

“I feel there’s an advantage with the crowd,” he said. “Whether you’re a pitcher or a hitter, it’s kind of nice playing here.”

--RHP Kevin Gregg earned his sixth save in a row Friday. Gregg is 8-for-9 in save chances, converting two this week.

--Soriano has been hobbled by a sore left knee, an injury he said he suffered last month hitting the wall at Wrigley Field. Piniella said he may have to sit Soriano if the injury persists. Soriano said he doesn’t need a day off and that Monday’s off day will suffice. He hasn’t homered since May 17 and has a .312 on-base percentage.

--INF Jake Fox scored the game-winning run after he singled with one out in the seventh inning. Fox has two singles and a double since his call-up Wednesday. The Cubs are still skittish about using him in the field. He was shaky on one relay throw Thursday, and he continues to work with infield coach Alan Trammell.

--RHP Carlos Marmol picked up his league-leading 12th hold by working a scoreless eighth. Command continues to be an issue, as he walked two, giving him 20 walks in 22 innings.

MINOR LEAGUES

IOWA 5, MEMPHIS 0 (CLASS AAA)

At Memphis, Tenn., the Cubs (24-23) came through with five runs in the ninth inning to take the series opener Friday. Iowa tallied six hits in the game and took advantage of three Memphis fielding errors in the ninth inning. C Mark Johnson (2-for-3, walk) led the team in hits. OF John-Ford Griffin made his Iowa debut and was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He joined the team from Class AAA Albuquerque (Dodgers) after batting .122 in 16 games with the Isotopes. On the mound, LHP J.R. Mathes (7-3) started and turned in his fifth quality start in a row. He threw eight scoreless innings and allowed five hits while striking out two batters and not allowing a walk. Mathes leads the Cubs’ farm system with seven victories. RHP Blake Parker tossed another scoreless inning in relief to close out the game. He extended his scoreless streak to 12 consecutive innings dating back to April 28.

HUNTSVILLE 4, TENNESSEE 2 – GAME 1 (CLASS AA)

At Sevierville, the Smokies collected 10 hits but left nine on base in the seven-inning loss Friday. 3B Marquez Smith (2-for-3) and RF Jim Adduci (2-for-4) led the team with two hits apiece. RHP Jay Jackson started and received a no-decision, working 5 2/3 innings and allowing one run and two hits. He walked three batters and struck out one. RHP Brian Schlitter (0-3) suffered the loss in relief, allowing three runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings. Former Cubs prospect Mark Holliman (2-2) started for Huntsville and got the win, allowing two runs and 10 hits in six innings.

HUNTSVILLE 3, TENNESSEE 0 – GAME 2

The Stars completed the doubleheader sweep for the second straight day, as Tennessee left 11 on base in the seven-inning loss. Six Smokies players recorded one hit apiece, including SS Darwin Barney (1-for-3, walk), who has reached base safely in 22 of his last 24 games and is batting .327 through 47 contests. LHP Jeremy Papelbon returned from the DL and made his first start of the season. He tossed three scoreless innings and allowed four hits in a no-decision. RHP Jake Muyco (0-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing all three runs in 1 2/3 innings. Tennessee (21-28) has dropped six in a row and seven of their last eight.

PALM BEACH 7, DAYTONA 4 (CLASS HIGH-A)

At Jupiter, Fla., the Cardinals completed the four-game sweep as the Cubs (19-23) collected 14 hits but left nine on base in the loss Friday. Five Daytona players finished with two hits or more, including CF Tony Campana (3-for-5), who led off and paced the offense with three hits. He is batting .328 in 16 games since being promoted from Class-A Peoria and is 11-for-25 over his last six games. SS Starlin Castro (2-for-5, RBI), LF Jonathan Wyatt (2-for-5), 1B Ryan Keedy (2-for-4) and DH Jake Opitz (2-for-3, walk, double, two runs) all had two hits. RHP Dan McDaniel (3-1) started and suffered his first career loss, allowing three runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five batters and walked three.

GREAT LAKES 8, PEORIA 7 – 10 INNINGS (CLASS-A)

At Midland, Mich., the Chiefs (24-22) collected 11 hits in the loss Friday. Three players collected two hits: 2B Junior Lake (2-for-5), DH Nelson Perez (2-for-5) and C Michael Brenly (2-for-5, double, RBI). RF Kyler Burke (1-for-5) collected his 20th double, the most in the Cubs’ system and tied for the second most in all of minor league baseball. LF Josh Harrison (1-for-5) hit his third home run and had a three-RBI game for the third time this season. 3B Josh Vitters (0-for-5) had a seven-game hit streak snapped. RHP Justin Bristow started and allowed five runs on five hits in five innings for a no-decision. He struck out three batters and did not allow a walk. RHP Chris Huseby (1-3) suffered the loss in relief, allowing one run (a walk-off home run) and two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three batters and did not allow a walk and now has 28 strikeouts to two walks through 20 1/3 innings this season. Huseby had tossed 11 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings prior to giving up the game-winning run.

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