In Monday night's 4-2 victory at Cincinnati, manager Lou Piniella had no plans to use beleaguered closer Kevin Gregg, who blew two straight save opportunities in Florida over the weekend.
Piniella also was not going to use Aaron Heilman or Angel Guzman.
So when starter Randy Wells ran out of gas in the eighth inning -- Wells provided the bullpen a huge break by going 7 1/3 innings -- Piniella first turned to John Grabow, who got out of a minor jam.
In the ninth, as promised, Piniella turned to Carlos Marmol in the save situation. Marmol, who has been issuing nearly one walk per inning, opened by walking Laynce Nix. Marmol gave up two hits and a run, but he eventually got out of trouble and earned his fourth save.
According to Piniella, Gregg has a "tired arm," but the manager said it was nothing serious, just "achy." Guzman and Heilman have been overworked lately, and Piniella has had to be careful not to overuse Sean Marshall, who's been busy lately but who should get a break with the presence of Grabow.
Gregg has 21 saves in 26 chances, but he has given up 10 home runs this year, and that's been cause for alarm for Piniella.
Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush said Tuesday the bullpen was always a concern for any team.
"I think everybody's bullpen when you get to August gets a little bit frayed and taxed," Bush said. "The innings pile up, the heat gets to you and really you better be able to dig down into your Triple-A club, which we've been able to do.
"Are we concerned about the bullpen? You're always concerned. Like I said, it's just because of the workload."
CUBS 4, REDS 2: Wells lasted 7 1/3 innings and won for the eighth time in nine starts. Wells gave up six hits and one run. 2B Mike Fontenot hit a three-run homer off RHP Aaron Harang in the second.
--LHP Tom Gorzelanny will get called up from Class AAA Iowa to start Tuesday night at Cincinnati. The Cubs obtained Gorzelanny from Pittsburgh last week in the trade that also brought them Grabow. The Cubs will have to make a roster move. It's likely a relief pitcher, perhaps RHP Jeff Samardzija, will be optioned out.
--RHP Carlos Zambrano left Saturday's start in Florida with a stiff lower back. The Cubs say he should be fine to make his next start, Friday at Colorado. Zambrano pitched only three innings, giving up three hits and two runs, one earned.
--C Geovany Soto, recovering from an oblique-muscle strain, took his rehab assignment to Class AA Tennessee on Monday night and went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a walk and a strikeout. It's possible Soto could rejoin the Cubs on Wednesday at Cincinnati, but Friday at Colorado might be a more realistic date. Koyie Hill started his 23rd consecutive game Monday.
-- Wells ran his overall record to 8-4 with a 2.73 ERA. He picked up his first major league win June 21 and is 7-1 since then. Wells has the lowest ERA among Cubs starters, and his eight victories are one shy of team leader Ted Lilly.
--Fontenot hit his ninth homer of the season, tying his career best, set last year. It's been a struggle lately for Fontenot, who entered the game 5-for-36 (.139) over his previous 11 games.
--1B Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to four games with an eighth-inning double that put the Cubs ahead 4-0, scoring what proved to be an important insurance run. Lee is 7-for-18 during the streak, with five RBIs.