Cubs 3-1/2 Out at All-Star Break

Hill will get playing time with Soto out

The Cubs will try to piece things together until the end of the month. Meanwhile, they'll try to stay close or even take the lead in the National League Central.

Their doubleheader split Sunday with the St. Louis Cardinals left the Cubs 3-1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central despite a first half full of injuries and underperformance.

The Cubs learned Friday they'll be without starting catcher Geovany Soto for one month because of a strained left oblique. The front office tried to put in a waiver claim on Chris Coste after the Phillies designated him for assignment, but the Astros beat the Cubs to Coste.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry said the Cubs will "keep looking," but for the foreseeable future, they'll go with veteran backup Koyie Hill as their main catcher and IF-OF Jake Fox as the backup. Fox was drafted in 2003 as a catcher, but the Cubs never liked his defense behind the plate, so they moved him. However, Fox has been practicing behind the plate and said he can handle the job if need be.

In addition, right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster is on the disabled list with a broken right big toe. The Cubs used righty Kevin Hart in his place, and they sent him to the minor leagues over the weekend so he could keep getting work. Hart will start again for the Cubs on July 19 or July 20.

GAME ONE -- CUBS 7, CARDINALS 3: RHP Carlos Zambrano won for the first time since June 5. His solo homer in the fourth inning broke a 3-3 tie and proved to be the game-winning RBI. Zambrano worked six innings, giving up five hits and three runs. 1B Micah Hoffpauir hit a three-run homer in the first.

GAME TWO -- CARDINALS 4, CUBS 2: RHP Randy Wells gave up a pair of two-run homers to Ryan Ludwick. Leadoff man and CF Sam Fuld and RF Milton Bradley each had two hits for the Cubs.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Soto headed to the Cubs' spring facility in Arizona Sunday to begin rehabbing his strained left oblique muscle. Soto went on the DL Saturday, and he could miss a month.

--The Cubs recalled Fuld from Class AAA Iowa to fill Soto's roster spot. They'll go with Hill as their No. 1 catcher. Fox, who was drafted in 2003 as a catcher, will be Hill's backup for time being.

--Zambrano's home run in the first game of the doubleheader was his third of this season and the 19th of his career. The switch-hitting Zambrano is the Cubs' all-time home run leader among pitchers. On the mound, Zambrano is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three July starts.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 -- LHP Ted Lilly earned his 100th career victory Saturday against the Cardinals.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've told Theriot sunglasses are good for the beach. Get the flip-down variety you can wear over your eyes." -- Manager Lou Piniella, after shortstop Ryan Theriot lost Albert Pujols pop-up in the sun Sunday.

ROSTER REPORT

--1B Derrek Lee suffered neck spasms Saturday, forcing him out of that game and from the starting lineup from Game 1 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader. Lee said the spasms, which are caused by a bulging disc, are not as serious as those that bothered him in April and May. Lee played the night portion of the doubleheader.

--LHP Sean Marshall pitched two-thirds of an inning in the ninth. After issuing a walk, he was moved to left field as Piniella played the matchups, bringing Aaron Heilman in to pitch. Heilman got an out, and Marshall did not get tested in left field. He did record two outs to end the inning.

--Wells had his four-game winning streak snapped in the second game. Wells tossed seven innings, giving up four hits and the pair of two-run homers to Ludwick.

MEDICAL WATCH:

Lee (neck spasms) left the July 11 game, but he started the second game of a doubleheader on July 12.

Soto (mild left oblique strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 7. He will miss up to a month.

Dempster (broken right big toe) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 3. He is likely out three to four weeks.

RHP David Patton (right groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6.

INF Aaron Miles (hyperextended right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 21.

RHP Chad Fox (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 10. He might miss the remainder of the season. --The Sports XChange

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