Fontenot, Soto Toughing it Out

Cubs like Fontenot's power (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

The Cubs are sticking with a couple of their hitters who have been struggling.

Getting a reprieve was third baseman Mike Fontenot, who was 1-for-29 over his previous nine games.

Fontenot, who has seen the bulk of the playing time in the absence of the injured Aramis Ramirez, was in there again despite the horrible slump because he does provide a power threat. He has five homers but hasn't hit one since May 3.

Manager Lou Piniella termed Fontenot "ice cold" but said all it might take to get him going at the plate again is better balance in his stance.

The Cubs also want the left-handed-hitting Fontenot to hit to left field. After Fontenot grounded out in his first at-bat Tuesday night, he doubled down the left field line his next time up.

The other player who had been slumping until recently is catcher Geovany Soto, but Piniella said he has been happy with Soto's approach at the plate. Soto entered the game 8-for-24 over his previous seven games. One of those hits was Soto's first homer of the season.

CARDINALS 3, CUBS 0: The Cubs managed just three hits against Cardinals RHP Joel Pineiro. Fontenot had the only extra-base hit, a double in the fifth. LHP Ted Lilly turned in his sixth quality start, working seven innings, giving up four hits and three runs.

NEWS AND NOTES

--RHP Randy Wells will have his turn in the rotation skipped on the current road trip, but he'll be available out of the bullpen. RHP Ryan Dempster and LHP Sean Marshall will pitch the final two games of the series at St. Louis. In San Diego, the Cubs will go with RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Rich Harden and Lilly. The Cubs will come back with Dempster next Monday at home against the Pirates.

--Lilly lost for the first time in his career at new Busch Stadium. Lilly entered the game 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five previous starts at new Busch. The loss also snapped a three-game winning streak overall this season for Lilly.

--Zambrano passed all of his tests in Sunday's rehab start for Class A Daytona, according to the Cubs. He has been on the disabled list since May 4 with a strained left hamstring. Piniella said Zambrano threw only fastballs in the rehab start but that he'll be ready to come off the DL Friday. However, Zambrano says he'll take it easy on the bases "for about a month" to make sure the hamstring stays healthy.

--RF Milton Bradley had his eight-game hitting streak snapped. Bradley was 9-for-30 during the streak, but he failed to get the ball out of the infield in three at-bats Tuesday, including rolling into a double play in the second.

--1B Derrek Lee was 1-for-3 Tuesday, but he's 5-for-40 on the road this season. He defended Cubs hitters for their quick outs against Pineiro. Lee said the reason Pineiro threw just 92 pitches in a complete game was that Pineiro was throwing strikes and the hitters didn't want to fall behind.

IOWA 3, SALT LAKE 2 (CLASS AAA)

At Salt Lake City, Utah, the Cubs (21-17) used a 10-hit effort en route to the victory Tuesday. DH Jake Fox (2-for-4) extended his hit streak to 11 consecutive games, during which he's batted .513 with five home runs and 19 RBI. LF Jason Dubois (2-for-4) also added two hits, including a pair of doubles to raise his average to .358 (34-for-95) through 28 games. RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0) started and returned to the win column as a starter for the first time since July 20 of last year. He allowed one run and four hits in five innings, striking out a season-high six batters.

CHATTANOOGA 4, TENNESSEE 2 (CLASS AA)

At Chattanooga, Tenn., the Lookouts rallied for four eighth-inning runs off the Tennessee (17-18) bullpen en route to the victory Tuesday. SS Darwin Barney (3-for-5, RBI) paced the Smokies' offense with his third straight multi-hit game, and 2B Tony Thomas (2-for-4, walk) and CF Brandon Guyer (2-for-4, triple) added two hits apiece. RHP Jay Jackson started and tossed six shutout innings in a no-decision. He allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. Jackson has a 1.04 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his last four starts. RHP Brian Schlitter (0-2) suffered the loss and blown save in relief, allowing two runs and two hits to six batters faced.

DAYTONA 8, DUNEDIN 3 – 6 INNINGS (CLASS HIGH A)

At Dunedin, Fla., the Cubs (19-19) collected 10 hits in the rain-shortened victory Tuesday. 3B Jovan Rosa and SS Starlin Castro each went 2-for-4 to pace the offense, with Rosa collecting two doubles. Castro extended his hit streak to eight consecutive games and is batting .410 (25-for-61) through 17 games this month and .302 overall this season. DH Tyler Colvin (1-for-4) returned from the DL after being involved in a violent outfield collision with OF Tony Campana back on May 9 and collected an RBI double in his first at-bat. RHP Ryan Searle (3-2) started and picked up the win, allowing two earned runs and six hits in four innings. LHP Dustin Sasser pitched one scoreless inning in relief and has not allowed an earned run in nine of his last 10 outings for a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings total.

PEORIA 9, BELOIT 1 (CLASS A)

At Beloit, Wis., the Chiefs (21-16) collected a season-high 16 hits in the victory Tuesday. 3B Josh Vitters (3-for-5) collected three hits for the fifth straight game and hit his seventh home run. Vitters has homered in four straight games and is batting .435 (30-for-69) in 18 games this month, and .371 overall this season. The Chiefs hit four home runs with 2B Josh Harrison (2-for-5) clubbing his first homer, DH Ryan Flaherty (2-for-5) hitting his fourth, and LF Kyler Burke (2-for-5) hitting his third. Burke also collected his 16th double – the most in the Cubs' system. RHP Justin Bristow (1-2) started and picked up his first victory, allowing one run and three hits in five innings. LHP Jeff Beliveau tossed four scoreless innings in relief, allowing no hits and two walks to go with eight strikeouts. The Chiefs out-hit Beloit, 16-3.

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