On Friday, they learned they'll be without starting catcher Geovany Soto for up to a month because of a strained left oblique. Soto suffered the injury taking batting practice Wednesday. An MRI that night confirmed a "mild to moderate strain," according to Soto. The Cubs haven't officially put him on the disabled list because they were short a body Friday. They'll make a move Saturday.
The Cubs already are without starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, who broke his right big toe last Sunday and also could be gone for a month.
Koyie Hill takes over as the Cubs' No. 1 catcher for now, and the front office is scrambling to find a backup.
The Cubs were trying to swing a trade Friday, but nothing materialized. Failing that, they can turn to their Class AAA Iowa (Des Moines) farm club. Veteran Mark Johnson, who has major league experience, is at Iowa, but he's been on the DL with a sore neck. Chris Robinson, a minor league veteran is there, as is prospect Steve Clevenger.
The Cubs hope to add someone by game time Saturday afternoon.
CARDINALS 8, CUBS 3: RHP Rich Harden suffered his second straight rough outing, giving up seven hits and four runs in five innings. 1B Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer in the third. It was Lee's 17th homer of the year.
--RHP Jeff Stevens came up from Iowa to take the spot of RHP Kevin Hart, who was optioned to Iowa Thursday. Stevens pitched a perfect ninth inning. It was his major league debut. The Cubs obtained Stevens last winter as part of the trade that sent IF/OF Mark DeRosa to Cleveland.
--3B Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to three games (4-for-12). Ramirez has played in four games since coming off a two-month stint on the DL with a dislocated left shoulder. He committed an error when he dropped a throw from the outfield.
--Soto will go to the DL batting .230 with eight homers and 27 RBI. He was 2-for-14 on the homestand, but he had hit safely in 11 of his last 17 games with an at-bat. He'll head to the Cubs' Arizona facility Sunday to work out and rehab.
--Lee now has a team-leading 17 homers to go along with 56 RBI, also best on the Cubs. He has his slugging percentage up to .513, and he has six homers in his last nine games.
--Harden has not won at Wrigley Field since May 12. Since then he has an 8.63 ERA at Wrigley Field. He's 2-5 at home. On the road, he's 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA. -- The Sports XChange
IOWA 11, OKLAHOMA CITY 5 (CLASS AAA)
At Oklahoma City, the Cubs (45-42) scored seven runs in the sixth and tallied 15 hits total in the victory Friday. Five players finished with two hits or more, including 2B Nate Spears (3-for-4), who led the team in hits and picked up his 15th double. LF John-Ford Griffin (2-for-5) hit a three-run home run and CF Matt Camp (1-for-2) doubled and drove in three runs. RHP Mitch Atkins (6-9) started and picked up the victory, allowing five runs and 11 hits in six innings. He struck out four batters and walked two.
MONTGOMERY 15, TENNESSEE 1 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, Tenn., the Smokies (40-49 overall, 8-11 second half) were out-hit 19-6 in their most lopsided loss of the season Friday. DH Blake Lalli (2-for-4) hit his 14th double and led the team in hits. LF Ty Wright (1-for-3, walk) hit his fifth home run. 3B Marquez Smith (1-for-4) singled and has hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games. RHP Casey Coleman (9-4) started and suffered the loss, allowing a season-high seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out one.
DAYTONA 2, TAMPA 0 – GAME 1 (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Tampa, Fla., the Cubs combined for a five-hit shutout in the victory Friday. LHP James Leverton (6-8) started and tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits. He walked four and struck out one. RHP David Cales pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his 11 save. He lowered his ERA to 0.99 in 27 1/3 innings with the team. C Robinson Chirinos (1-for-3) collected his team-leading 39th RBI.
TAMPA 2, DAYTONA 1 – GAME 2
The Cubs (41-41, 7-8) were held to two hits in the loss as LF Jonathan Wyatt (2-for-3) collected the team’s only hits. RHP Dan McDaniel (5-6) started and suffered the loss, allowing two runs and four hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
GREAT LAKES 7, PEORIA 6 (CLASS-A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (44-40, 6-9) collected 11 hits in the loss Friday. CF David Macias (3-for-5) led the team in hits and hit his first career home run. RF Kyler Burke (2-for-4) launched a grand slam, his sixth home run of the season. He has 21 multi-hit games. RHP Marcus Hatley (5-6) started and suffered the loss, allowing seven runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He surrendered two home runs, his first since May 23.
VANCOUVER 5, BOISE 4 (CLASS LOW-A)
At Vancouver, B.C., the Hawks (6-14) were held to three hits in the loss Friday. RF Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) singled and drove in a run. He has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and is batting .292 in 18 games. LHP Jeff Antigua started and received a no-decision, allowing just one hit in five scoreless innings. He struck out six and did not allow a walk. RHP Joe Simokaitis (0-2) suffered the loss in relief, allowing four runs in one-third of an inning as part of a five-run Vancouver seventh.