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News » Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-14

Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-14

Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-14
The baseball season is just over a week old, but the Chicago Cubs have already had to overcome injuries to several key players. They hope to be a bit closer to full strength Wednesday afternoon when they wrap up their two-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

All-Stars Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto are both expected to be back in the lineup as the Cubs seek their fourth straight victory in a matchup with a Rockies team trying to avoid its fourth consecutive loss.

In Monday's home opener, Chicago (5-2) was without Ramirez (sore back), Soto (sore shoulder) and All-Star right fielder Milton Bradley (sore groin) - a trio that combined for 72 home runs last season. A less familiar trio of Aaron Miles, Reed Johnson and Koyie Hill replaced them in the lineup and the Cubs went on to beat Colorado 4-0.

"There's some work to be done here with this team, believe me," manager Lou Piniella told Chicago's official Web site. "The start - we're very happy with our 5-2 record. Guys are playing hard, and good things are happening."

Piniella believes Ramirez will return to third base after his one-game absence, while Soto will be back behind the plate for the first time since last Tuesday. Bradley, the Cubs' main offseason acquisition, was injured running the bases in Sunday's 8-5 win over Milwaukee and could be out three to five days, Piniella said.

Kosuke Fukudome was moved from second in the batting order to third Monday and continued his hot start with an RBI single. Fukudome, who hit .305 last April before fading late in the season, is 10-for-20 with two homers, five RBIs and six walks in his last five games.

The Cubs have scored 18 runs during their three-game winning streak and have been patient at the plate. They've walked 19 times in the last two games, scoring five runs via bases-loaded walks.

Ted Lilly and three relievers limited the Rockies (3-4) to one hit Monday, and Rich Harden (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will try to shut down a slumping Colorado offense when he takes the ball Wednesday for the first time against the Rockies.

Colorado has scored nine runs and is batting .149 (14-for-94) during the three-game losing streak after plating 30 runs and hitting .289 (39-for-135) in its first four games.

Garrett Atkins had Colorado's lone hit Monday. He's 2-for-19 in five games at Wrigley Field since the start of last season.

Harden allowed two runs and three hits with 10 strikeouts in six innings of Friday's 4-3 loss to Milwaukee, but did not factor in the decision. The right-hander made 96 pitches and was in line for the win before the Brewers rallied for two runs in the ninth.

Harden hopes to build on that start at Wrigley Field, where he went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts last season.

Harden will be opposed by Jason Marquis (1-0, 2.57), who makes his return to Wrigley after being traded by Chicago in January.

Marquis was 23-18 with a 4.57 ERA in 63 games with the Cubs over the past two seasons, going 4-6 with a 5.53 ERA in 15 starts at Wrigley in 2008.

"It's always good to go back to a place where you've played," the right-hander told the Rockies' official Web site. "I have a lot of fond memories there."

Marquis got off to a solid start with his new team, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 10-3 win over Philadelphia on Friday.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 14, 2009

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