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Astros-Cubs Preview 2009-05-15


Astros-Cubs Preview 2009-05-15
Despite injuries to several core players, the Chicago Cubs have managed to get by thanks to some lesser-known contributors.

The surging Cubs look to win a season-high fifth straight Saturday in the opener of a rain-shortened, two-game series with the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (dislocated shoulder) and Carlos Zambrano (hamstring) are on the disabled list, while first baseman Derrek Lee is dealing with a bulging disc in his neck. The rash of injuries has forced Chicago to rely on its depth.

On Thursday, 31-year-old rookie Bobby Scales had two doubles and drove in four runs, while Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukudome each had two hits in Chicago's 11-3 win over San Diego.

Rain washed out Friday's game against Houston (16-18), and it was rescheduled for July 30.

The Cubs (20-14) are 10-3 in May and have won seven of eight at Wrigley, where they'll face Houston for the first time this season. Chicago is 4-1 against the Astros in 2009.

Fukudome is batting .462 (12 for 26) during a seven-game hitting streak and is 5 for 13 with a homer against Houston this season.

Scales, who spent more than 10 years in the minors, could be in the lineup again at third base. He's 8 for 18 (.444) with a homer and five RBIs in six games this season.

"I've said many times players in the large part make out the lineup for the manager," Lou Piniella told the Cubs' official Web site.

"Scalesie is swinging the bat. He wants some playing time."

Another reserve, Micah Hoffpauir, scored two runs Thursday and is batting .292 while earning more time as Lee continues to receive frequent rest.

Hoffpauir or fellow backup Johnson could be in the lineup Saturday as outfielder Milton Bradley serves a one-game suspension for allegedly brushing up against home plate umpire Larry Vanover on April 16.

Bradley is batting .194 on the season but .320 during a seven-game hitting streak.

Rookie Randy Wells (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who replaced Zambrano in the rotation, looks to build on his first major league start.

Wells allowed five hits and struck out five in five innings May 8, working out of a few jams in a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee.

"I learned a lot," Wells said. "I don't have to throw 100 mph. If I paint at 91 and change speeds, I'll be more efficient."

The right-hander will make his first appearance versus Houston, which looks for a third straight victory after winning 5-3 at Colorado on Thursday.

Michael Bourn had four hits and stole home while Carlos Lee homered for the Astros, winners of five of six.

The speedy Bourn is batting .455 (10 for 22) with six runs and five stolen bases in his last five games.

Lee is hitting .442 (23 for 52) with 11 RBIs in May, but is 3 for 18 against the Cubs this season. The veteran slugger, though, is batting .311 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs in 46 career games at Wrigley.

The Astros will look to veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt (1-2, 4.50) on Saturday and give Friday's scheduled starter, Brian Moehler, an extra day of rest.

Oswalt, who took a loss April 6 at home against Chicago, captured his first victory in eight starts Sunday. He beat visiting San Diego 12-5 despite allowing four runs for a second straight outing.

Oswalt is 2-5 in his last seven starts versus the Cubs despite a 3.81 ERA. He is 1-3 in his last four at Wrigley with a 6.04 ERA but threw 8 1-3 innings in a 3-0 win Sept. 1.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

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