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Cubs gearing up for big series

Cubs gearing up for big series
It may be a little early to start talking about showdowns, but the St. Louis Cardinals come to Wrigley Field today to open a four-game series. Next weekend, the teams meet at Busch Stadium.

"We do have a rivalry," said Cubs lefty Sean Marshall, who will make his first start of the season today. Marshall has made 2 relief appearances. "I guess the fans kind of show the rivalry more than we do. We get big support. The Cardinals fans come out and support them. It?s fun. It?s always a good challenge."

The Cardinals will be without pitcher Chris Carpenter, who went on the disabled list Wednesday with a rib-cage injury he suffered Tuesday while swinging the bat.

"If it?s not bad, four weeks," Cards Manager Tony La Russa told the media in Arizona, where the Cardinals were playing. "Bad, it?s eight weeks."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella sympathized.

"It?s a shame," Piniella said. "Carpenter?s a good pitcher."

Walking wounded: Geovany Soto (shoulder) returned to the lineup and went 0-for-4. Milton Bradley remained out with his strained right groin. He may return later in the weekend.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez originally was in the lineup, but he was scratched because of a sore lower back.

The Cubs vehemently denied a report on Baseball Prospectus that said Ramirez "had some imaging done on Monday that came back negative." the BP report didn?t use the term MRI, but the Cubs said Ramirez had no exam of that kind done.

Honoring Jackie: All players wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the modern-day color barrier in major-league Baseball on April 15, 1947.

"I thought it was very cool because today is his day," said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee. "We?re honoring him and hopefully educating people along the way. If you?re a casual fan, and you turn the game on and you see everyone wearing 42, you?re going to figure out exactly what?s going on and figure out it?s Jackie Robinson Day."

Bullpen banter: Starting pitcher Rich Harden lasted only 3 innings, but the bullpen pitched creditably. David Patton worked 2 scoreless innings, striking out three. Luis Vizcaino (0.00 ERA) was perfect in the sixth.

Neal Cotts gave up a walk and a hit, but a double play helped him. Angel Guzman finished, allowing 2 hits and 1 run. Cubs pitchers walked seven and struck out 14.

"They did fine," Lou Piniella said. "The Rule 5 kid (Patton) threw strikes. He hasn?t pitched much early in the year, but he came in and threw strikes. Vizcaino came in here and got three outs. We need Cotts to get a little more consistent in getting left-handed hitters out."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 17, 2009

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