Bullpen Bounces Back

Angel Guzman (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

The Cubs' bullpen did a 180 from Tuesday to Wednesday.

After the relievers helped blow a 5-0 lead Tuesday, three relievers pitched scoreless ball in Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Braves in 11 innings.

Ace relievers Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg, both of whom gave up runs in Tuesday's 6-5, 12-inning loss, were lights-out Wednesday. Marmol, who has struggled with his command since spring training, worked a perfect eighth, with one strikeout. Gregg, who blew the save Tuesday, picked up his ninth in 11 chances Wednesday, setting down the Braves in order in the 11th.

In between, Angel Guzman performed well under pressure, giving up just one hit over the ninth and 10th innings and earning the victory. Manager Lou Piniella said he is going to stick with his relievers in their roles, particularly Marmol as the prime setup man and Gregg as the closer. However, Guzman continues to put pressure on right-hander Aaron Heilman for the next prominent spot.

"I feel comfortable with it," Piniella said of the 'pen.

CUBS 3, BRAVES 2 (11 innings): Pinch hitter Micah Hoffpauir hit an opposite-field single in the 11th to drive in Derrek Lee with the go-ahead run. LHP Ted Lilly worked seven innings, giving up six hits and two runs, one earned. RHPs Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman and Kevin Gregg held the Braves scoreless.

NEWS AND NOTES

--Lee, who came into Wednesday with an on-base percentage of .331, reached his final four times up, with two walks and two singles. Lee extended his hitting streak to four games (6-for-14).

--RHP Carlos Zambrano comes off the MLB suspended list to start Thursday's series finale against the Braves. Zambrano got himself into more hot water with the Cubs, this time by apparently missing Monday's charter flight from Chicago to Atlanta without permission. GM Jim Hendry said the matter was between Zambrano and manager Lou Piniella, who said the matter was handled internally.

--RF Milton Bradley underwent an MRI on his right calf, which he strained Tuesday. The Cubs said Bradley has a mild to moderate strain, and they'll see how he feels Thursday. Although he is not on the DL, Bradley was not even healthy enough to pinch-hit Wednesday.

--CF Reed Johnson extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the 11th inning. Johnson is 12-for-30 in the streak. He was in the lineup because RF Milton Bradley is injured. Kosuke Fukudome(notes) moved from center field to right.

--C Koyie Hill started behind the plate in place of Geovany Soto, who has been slumping at and behind the plate. Soto entered the game in the ninth inning and threw out a potential base stealer in the bottom of the inning, making him 7-for-33. Soto is batting .209 with a homer and 12 RBI. Manager Lou Piniella has said he might start playing Hill more, perhaps as a way to light a fire under Soto.

MINOR LEAGUES

NASHVILLE 3, IOWA 0 (CLASS AAA)

At Nashville, Tenn., the Cubs (26-28) were shutout and held to four hits for the second straight day in the loss Wednesday. C Steve Clevenger (2-for-3, double) paced the offense with his first two-hit game since being promoted from Class AA Tennessee. LHP J.R. Mathes (7-4) started and suffered the loss, allowing one run and three hits in only two innings. He left the game with an oblique-related injury, according to a team spokesperson.

CAROLINA 4, TENNESSEE 3 (CLASS AA)

At Zebulon, N.C., the Smokies (21-33) dropped their 11th consecutive game in walk-off fashion Wednesday. RF Tyler Colvin (2-for-3) hit his first home run since being promoted from Class High-A Daytona, and CF Jim Adduci (2-for-4) added two hits and an RBI. LF Ty Wright (1-for-4) singled to extend his hit streak to 13 consecutive games. RHP Brian Schlitter (0-4) suffered the loss in relief, tossing 1 1/3 innings and allowing a walk-off home run in the ninth inning. LHP Jeremy Papelbon started and gave up two runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

CHARLOTTE 8, DAYTONA 1 (CLASS HIGH-A)

At Port Charlotte, Fla., the Cubs (22-25) were held to two hits in the loss Wednesday. 2B Nate Samson (1-for-4) and 3B Marwin Gonzalez (1-for-2) combined for the Cubs' only hits. Gonzalez extended his hit streak to five consecutive games. RHP Dan McDaniel (3-2) started and suffered the loss, allowing a season-high six runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked three.

PEORIA 2, BELOIT 1 – 7 INNINGS (CLASS-A)

At Peoria, the Chiefs (27-23) made the most of four hits in the victory Wednesday. Four different Peoria players recorded one hit apiece, including 1B Rebel Ridling (1-for-3), who drove in two runs. He is tied for 3B Josh Vitters (0-for-3) for the team lead in RBI with 34. LF Josh Harrison (1-for-2) extended his hit streak to 10 consecutive games.

RHP Marcus Hatley (4-3) started and got the win, allowing one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked one.

"He's throwing a knuckle curve now," Chiefs manager Marty Pevey said of Hatley. "It's a true knuckle curve that when you throw it, you create a lot of downspin; not a knuckle curve like A.J. Burnett throws. He's going to throw that more and his slider less because the curve is more of an out-pitch."

PEORIA 3, BELOIT 2

In the continuation of Tuesday's suspended game, the Chiefs rallied for two eighth-inning runs to get the victory. Ridling (2-for-4, two RBI) paced the offense with two hits, including a go-ahead two-run single. RHP Mike Perconte (3-1) got the win in relief with RHP Chris Huseby notching his third save.

"We got lucky and took advantage of (Beloit's) mistakes and made them pay," Pevey said of the Chiefs' play Wednesday. "The baseball God's were with us today."

InsideTheIvy.com correspondent Adam Franey in Peoria contributed reporting.

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