Rain Delay: Cubs trailing Astros

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Rain Delay: Cubs trailing Astros

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011
Posted: 11:11 a.m.

Associated Press

With win No. 4,000 at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs extended the Houston Astros' misery, handing them the first 100-loss season in franchise history.

Houston, however, could leave Chicago in much higher spirits with red-hot Brett Myers taking the mound in Sunday's series finale.

The Astros (51-100) entered Saturday as one of just three teams never to have lost 100 games. They can no longer lay claim to that after losing 2-1 on Saturday - their fifth straight defeat on the North Side.

"It's definitely a number that breaking camp with the talent we've had all year in this clubhouse, (I didn't think) anything like that would happen," shortstop Clint Barmes said.

Houston's struggles can largely be attributed to its inability to get things going at the plate. It has scored an NL-low 43 runs since Aug. 31 while hitting .204 with runners in scoring position.

"We were (0 for 14) with runners in scoring position (Saturday), which turned out to be quite a number," manager Brad Mills said."...We can't focus on (100 losses) right now. It's not the right thing that we need to be looking at as we move forward."

Myers (5-13, 4.52 ERA) will try to help the Astros avoid a fourth straight loss.

The right-hander is 10-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last 12 starts against the Cubs, going 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA over seven career starts at Wrigley. He threw six innings of one-run ball during his last visit, a 3-1 win June 1.

Myers has had his way with several of Chicago's best hitters, most notably Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano. Ramirez is 11 for 46 (.239) with two homers and 11 strikeouts against Myers while Soriano has gone 6 for 39 (.167), fanning 15 times.

Myers has allowed one run in each of his last three starts spanning a combined 22 2-3 innings, winning twice during that span. He allowed six hits and a walk in eight innings of Monday's 5-1 victory over Philadelphia

"Sometimes you go out there and don't want to throw a pitch because they know it's coming or they have something on you," he said. "You just have to mix it up and keep them (as) off balance as much as possible."

Myers will try to slow down Bryan LaHair, who gave the Cubs the lead for good Saturday with his second home run. LaHair is 13 for 30 (.433) since he was promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Sept. 2.

"When he squares it up it's pretty impressive," manager Mike Quade said. "Big, strong kid. We like what we've seen so far, that's for sure."

Starlin Castro also continues to impress. He doubled to extend his streak of reaching base to 30 straight games - the longest run by a Cubs shortstop since Ernie Banks in 1960.

Ryan Dempster (10-12, 4.66) takes the mound seeking his first win in seven tries. The right-hander allowed two runs and six hits but issued a season worst-tying six walks in seven innings of Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Cincinnati.

Dempster is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts - both on the road - against the Astros this season.

Carlos Lee is 14 for 41 (.341) with two homers lifetime versus Dempster, who is one loss away from matching his career high set in 2002.

Chicago, on the verge of its second consecutive three-game home sweep of Houston, has never taken six straight at Wrigley against the Astros in a single season.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs in holding pattern with Jorge Soler

Cubs in holding pattern with Jorge Soler

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs are downplaying the discomfort Jorge Soler has been feeling on his right side, saying the injury-prone outfielder should be cleared by this weekend and for what they hope will be a long run into October.

Soler stayed back in Chicago for another MRI and didn’t travel with the team to Pittsburgh, where the Cubs are trying to find the right balance between keeping players rested and sharp with a division title and the National League’s No. 1 seed already clinched.

“Nothing horrible,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday at PNC Park. “Nothing to be highly concerned about. But we kept him back for the test.”

Soler — who had already gotten an initial scan — didn’t play in five consecutive games (Sept. 17-21). He then pinch-hit against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday and started in right field the next day at Wrigley Field.

“The side bothers him,” Maddon said. “It wasn’t bad. I know that.”

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A series of injuries have stalled Soler’s career — he missed almost two months this season with a strained left hamstring — but there is no denying his immense talent, right-handed power and age-24 potential.

Built like an NFL linebacker, Soler is hitting .240 with 12 homers, 31 RBIs and a .773 OPS in 85 games, making him a physical presence in the lineup that opponents have to respect.

Whether or not you believe in the concept of clutch hitting, Soler played a big role in knocking the Cardinals out of last year’s playoffs, setting a new major-league record by getting on base in his first nine career postseason plate appearances and launching two homers in four games.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs reach 100 wins for first time since 1935

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs reach 100 wins for first time since 1935

CSN's David Kaplan hosts a discussion with today's panel: Ravi Baichwal from ABC 7, David Haugh lead columnist from the Chicago Tribune, and Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. The group discusses the Cubs reaching 100 wins on the season, talk Jay Cutler's future as Bears QB, and Scott Paddock stops by to talk NASCAR.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: