Cubs Get First Victory Behind Wells, Longball

Randy Wells (AP)

There's nothing quite like a victory to cure what ails you. That was the mind-set of Cubs manager Lou Piniella before Thursday night's series finale against Atlanta. The Cubs dropped the first two games of the series, one via a blowout and another with a blown lead in the eighth inning.

They finally broke through with a 2-0 victory.

"Listen, it's always nice," Piniella said. "We're trying to win one, and they're trying to win their third. We're going to do the best we can. It's important. Look, we've got to play tomorrow, regardless whether we win or lose tonight. The season isn't over. If we win this game, it doesn't mean we're going to win a World Series. If we lose it, it doesn't mean we're going to lose one."

Piniella noted that a two-game losing streak to start the season is quite different from one in the middle of the season. Everything is magnified at the start, especially with expectations and anxiety both running high around the Cubs.

"I think so -- 2-0, you're on top of the world; 0-2, you're six feet under," he said. "It's early."

The Cubs hit into a total of five double plays in the first two games against the Braves. They also managed a total of 12 hits. For the series, they had 16 hits and are batting just .176 as a team.

"We've got to pick it up hitting-wise," Piniella said after the victory.

RHP Randy Wells turned in the Cubs' second quality start in two nights, allowing six hits in six innings. He struck out only one, but he recorded 13 outs on the ground with a good sinker. RHP Carlos Marmol worked 1 1/3 innings for the save.

LF Tyler Colvin hit his first major league homer in the second inning, and CF Marlon Byrd hit his second homer of the year in the third.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Ted Lilly's rehab start with Class AAA Iowa was pushed back from Friday until Sunday, as Lilly was struggling with back stiffness. The veteran is rehabbing from last November's arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder, and he could be ready to rejoin the rotation later this month. "This is not a setback," Piniella said.

--OF Xavier Nady is likely to get his first start of the season Friday in Cincinnati. Nady had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last year while with the Yankees. The Cubs eased him into outfield play this spring. Piniella said that because Great American Ball Park is relatively small, Nady should not have to make many long throws.

--Colvin, the rookie who led the Cubs in hitting during spring training, made his first start of the year Thursday night, and he hit his first big-league homer, a big drive to right in the second inning. Colvin played left field in place of Alfonso Soriano, who will return to the lineup Friday night. The big concern the Cubs have is keeping Colvin fresh, but he said that he should be fine as long as he adheres to his practice routine.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano will start Saturday at Cincinnati instead of Sunday. That pushes LHP Tom Gorzelanny from Saturday to Sunday. Piniella said he wants to keep his "Big Three" of Zambrano, RHP Ryan Dempster and RHP Randy Wells on their every-fifth-day rotation.

--LHP Sean Marshall has worked in all three games and hasn't given up a hit while striking out seven.

"Marshall was stretched out all spring for starting, so his arm is nice and strong," Piniella said.

Marshall attributed the early success to a good curveball.

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