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Cubs struggle with injuries quot


Cubs struggle with injuries quot
The Chicago Cubs, two-time National League Central Division champions, are down to 22 - and perhaps fewer - healthy players and they had a pitcher who was in Class A last year facing Albert Pujols with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Saturday. But no excuses, said manager Lou Piniella.

quot;Truthfully, right now, St. Louis is a better team than we are,quot; Piniella said after the Cardinals beat the Cubs for the second straight time, 8-2, at Busch Stadium. quot;We'll see what happens as the summer progresses, but right now they're the better team.quot;

The Cubs, after an 8-4 start in which they took over the division lead from the Cardinals last weekend in Chicago, have lost four in a row, scoring only six runs in the process, and are four games behind the Cardinals .

With Milton Bradley out with a groin injury and Derrek Lee slumping - he's now under .200 at .197 - Piniella unveiled a new lineup Friday, featuring former leadoff man Alfonso Soriano hitting third.

On that night, new cleanup man Aramis Ramirez went out with a calf injury and on Saturday, Soriano fanned three times in four at-bats. Also, on Saturday, Cubs starter Sean Marshall got ahead of both Khalil Greene and Brian Barden at 0-2 in the fourth inning, but both delivered run-scoring hits in a three-run inning that broke a scoreless tie.

Then, Rule V draftee David Patton, who was pitching in Modesto, Calif., last year but who has to stay with the Cubs this season, walked rookie Colby Rasmus with men at second and third and one out in the seventh, with the Cubs still in the game at 3-1. One pitch later, they were not in the game after Pujols' eighth grand slam.

Patton had not been used since last Thursday, so Piniella said, quot;Let's be fair to him. I've got to use him. I just can't keep him out there.

quot;But you can't walk people in front of Pujols. You might be able to do that in Modesto, but over here, I would suggest not. Damn, he hit that ball.quot;

Piniella, who had a 20-minute closed-door conversation with pitching coach Larry Rothschild after the game, appeared more concerned afterward about his offense.

quot;It's not good,quot; Piniella said. quot;We certainly haven't done much offensively here in a while. You almost have to get shutout pitching.quot;

The Cubs, in the person of Joey Gathright, helped thwart themselves in the top of the seventh. Gathright, after getting an infield single, was caught leaning on a 3-2 pitch and was nabbed off first by Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. Ryan Theriot, the next hitter, walked, but then was tagged out by second baseman Brendan Ryan on an inning-ending double play.

quot;Not only are we not hitting,quot; Piniella said, quot;but we're making a lot of these mistakes that certainly don't help you sustain rallies. I mean, he'd already seen (Motte's) move. It wasn't like he'd thrown over for the first time.quot;

Soriano, surveying the Cubs' landscape, said, quot;We're not hitting, not pitching, we're not doing nothing.quot;


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 26, 2009

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