Piniella Hints at Changes

A day or two off for Soriano? (STAFF/PAM DAVIS)

Manager Lou Piniella said changes may be on the way after the Cubs fell 4-1 to the White Sox on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are 1-3 so far on the homestand, and they've scored a total of eight runs in those four games. They've also stranded 67 runners in their last eight games.

"It's getting to the point where I'm going to have to start making some tough decisions and get different people in the lineup," Piniella said. "I've been real patient with it, but I tell you, it's getting to that point."

The obvious move would be to give struggling left fielder Alfonso Soriano a break of at least a day or two. Soriano was 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout. His batting average has fallen to .225, and his on-base percentage has dropped to a dangerously low .291.

Rookie Jake Fox is up again from the minor leagues. He's a poor fielder, but the Cubs possibly could "hide" him in left.

"We'll see," is all Piniella said when asked about specific changes he had in mind.

WHITE SOX 4, CUBS 1: RHP Ryan Dempster gave up three runs, one in each of the first two innings. Dempster struggled with his command, walking six in six innings. Cubs hitters were 0-for-7 with men in scoring position.

NOTES, QUOTES

--3B Aramis Ramirez hit "soft-toss" pitches with a fungo bat Wednesday as he took another step in his recovery from a dislocated left shoulder. Batting practice will be the next step. Ramirez hopes to be back before the All-Star break, but he said he won't rush. He'll also likely need a minor league rehab stint.

--Dempster earned his ninth quality start of the season, as he gave up three runs in six innings Wednesday against the White Sox. However Dempster threw only 51 strikes among his 104 pitches, and his record fell to 4-4.

--Piniella on the perception that he doesn't have the "fire" he once had as a manager: "What do I need to show fire for? I'm not a dragon," he said. "Look, if I was out there arguing all the time, what they'd be saying is, 'Well, this guy's lost his cool.' Look, I still want to win. I still have it in my belly. I think the players, obviously, know that." --1B Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a second-inning single Wednesday. He is 20-for-56 (.357) during the streak. Lee also has reached base safely in 24 consecutive games.

--RF Milton Bradley picked up two hits, raising his average to .234. It was Bradley's sixth multi-hit game of the season and his second in his last four games.

--RHP Jose Ascanio pitched one scoreless inning, striking out one. Ascanio lowered his ERA to 2.51, and he's held opponents scoreless over his last five outings at Wrigley Field.

MINOR LEAGUES

IOWA 5, OKLAHOMA CITY 4 – 11 INNINGS (CLASS AAA)

At Oklahoma City, the Cubs (35-32) collected 11 hits in the victory Wednesday. 3B Matt Camp (4-for-6) paced the offense with a season-high four hits and two stolen bases, and LF John-Ford Griffin (1-for-5) hit his first home run of the season. Ryan Freel (1-for-4, walk, two RBI) made his third rehab appearance and had three stolen bases. Iowa hitters drew nine walks in the victory. The Cubs used six pitchers with RHP Justin Berg (2-1) earning the win in relief by tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. RHP Esmailin Caridad started and scattered one run and six hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked two.

ST. LUCIE 4, DAYTONA 1 (CLASS HIGH-A)

At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (31-30) were held to five hits in the loss Wednesday with 1B Jovan Rosa (2-for-3) leading the offense with two hits. RHP Ryan Searle (5-5) started and suffered the loss, allowing two runs, two hits and four walks in three innings. LHP Luke Sommer, converted to pitcher from the outfield last fall, threw one scoreless inning of relief and lowered his ERA to 2.05 through 30 2/3 innings. He has not been scored on in 10 of his last 12 relief appearances.

PEORIA 7, QUAD CITIES 3 (CLASS-A)

At Peoria, the Chiefs (35-30) collected 13 hits in the victory Wednesday. C Michael Brenly (3-for-3, RBI) led the team with three hits, and LF Josh Harrison (2-for-4, RBI), 2B Ryan Flaherty (2-for-4, triple), and SS Junior Lake (2-for-4, two RBI) each had two hits. Lake hit his fourth home run and 11th double. RHP Justin Bristow (3-2) started and scattered one run and seven hits over five innings for the win.

RAINED OUT

At Sevierville, Class AA Tennessee's scheduled game against Carolina was postponed due to rain Wednesday. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

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