Prior has won both of his starts since recovering from a sore elbow that forced him to begin the season on the disabled list. He’s allowed only one unearned run and eight hits in 13 innings during that stretch.
“I’m still fighting things,” said Prior, who made only one spring training start. “Will I be where I want to be next week? Next year? I don’t know. I’ll just keep working at it hard.”
The 24-year-old Prior went just 6-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 2004, but was limited to 21 starts because of Achilles’ and elbow injuries. He went 18-6 with 245 strikeouts and a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts in 2003.
Chicago is counting on Prior and teammate Kerry Wood to stay healthy this season.
Wood left his start early with tendinitis on Sunday, but still got his first win of the season in the Cubs’ 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wood said his shoulder was stiff before the game, but he loosened up and struck out a season-high eight in five innings. He was lifted after only 76 pitches because of discomfort that felt similar to what bothered him in spring training.
The right-hander started just three games this spring because of bursitis in his shoulder.
“I’ve got some treatment to do,” Wood said. “It’s not an injury of any kind where I’m going to miss time, hopefully.”
Chicago plays Cincinnati again after splitting a two-game series against the Reds at the Great American Ball Park last week. The Cubs hit seven homers during the series, two each by Corey Patterson and Derrek Lee.
Claussen allowed three hits, struck out three, walked three and hit a batter in 5 1-3 innings, winning for the first time since Aug. 22.
Cincinnati is 1-2 after three games of its nine-game road trip.