Wait a minute. Haven't we heard this one before, and wasn't Milton Bradley supposed to fill that role this year?
Yes and yes. But things haven't worked out the way the Cubs had hoped with an offense that led the league in runs scored last year but that has been only middle-of-the-pack this season.
"That's the spot we need to solve more than anything else," Piniella said Sunday. "There's no question about. That's the spot that needs to be filled here this winter more than anything else. It's been a problem for us. You look at our offense, and one really good RBI guy really makes a big difference."
Bradley, who batted second Sunday, has provided little production from the fifth hole. He's batting .220 (22-for-100) with three homers and nine RBIs batting fifth. In that role Saturday, he came up three times with men on base, grounding out, flying out and striking out.
Bradley has started 30 games batting fifth this year, most on the team. He's batting .326 (30-for-92) batting second, and if the Cubs don't trade him this winter, that's where he may hit for them next year.
Piniella also has talked of wanting a leadoff hitter and more speed in his lineup, but everything will depend on the Cubs' still-unsettled ownership situation. It could be a second straight year of a tight budget for GM Jim Hendry.
CUBS 5, REDS 2: LHP Ted Lilly worked six shutout innings, throwing a season-high 119 pitches. He gave up six hits while striking out seven and walking two. No. 8 hitter, SS Andres Blanco, drove in two with a third inning single as he subbed for Ryan Theriot. Derrek Lee hit his 32nd homer.
--LF Alfonso Soriano will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday in Chicago. Although the surgery will finish Soriano for the season, the Cubs are happy because he'll get to begin his rehab under the supervision of their training staff before he heads home to the Dominican Republic after the season. Assuming he doesn't return, Soriano batted .241 with 20 homers, 55 RBIs and an OBP of .303.
--RHP Angel Guzman has not pitched since Sept. 8 because of a recurrence of a triceps problem that put him on the DL in late June. Manager Lou Piniella said Guzman should be able to pitch sometime in this week's Milwaukee series.
--Blanco had a career-high three hits. He also drove in two, giving him a career-best 11 RBIs. His last three-hit game came Sept. 11, 2005 while he was with Kansas City.
"I asked him a little while ago, 'When's the last time you had three hits in a major-league game,'" Piniella said. "I still don't have the answer. I tell you what, he's got a good glove. And he's a versatile kid. If the bat's there, he can help a major-league team, including ours."
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Catcher Koyie Hill ranks second in the NL in throwing out runners trying to steal. Hill wrestled the starting catching job from reigning Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto in the second half.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "No, that's over with. That's over with. No, we're not going to do that." -- Piniella, on whether Alfonso Soriano will ever return to the leadoff spot.
--3B Aramis Ramirez has 55 RBIs in just 68 games. Ramirez missed two months with a dislocated left shoulder. His RBI total is tied with Soriano for second on the team behind 1B Derrek Lee's 97. Ramirez is batting .408 (51-for-125) at Wrigley Field this season. He has 23 multi-hit games despite playing in only 68 games.
--Soto got a rest Sunday, but he had driven in at least two runs in each of his last four games and had a five-game hitting streak (7-for-16). Hill started and had an RBI single and a walk.
"The hits have been coming," Soto said. "I'm happy for it, but like I say, I've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of work to do."
--Lilly is 12-8 overall and is 8-1 with a 1.60 ERA at Wrigley Field. It's his fourth straight season of at least 12 victories.
--Lee extended his hitting streak to six games. He's batting .417 (10-for-24) during the streak.
Maybe the Cubs were inspired by a speech from manager Lou Piniella earlier this week…