Chicago (40-43) at Atlanta (48-37)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Thu Jul 7, 2005
  • TV: WGN, TBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Though they’ll likely be without All-Star first baseman Derrek Lee during a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Cubs are just happy to know their best player won’t be gone for long.

Lee, who leads the majors with a .378 batting average, left Tuesday night’s game with a shoulder injury. Second in the majors with 25 homers and third in the NL with 67 RBIs, Lee backed out of the batter’s box in apparent pain during his first-inning at-bat. He remained in the game and struck out.

After playing two innings, however, Lee departed with left shoulder irritation, and the Cubs feared the worst.

However, Lee learned Wednesday that results of an MRI on his left shoulder were negative.

“It’s nice to find out for sure it’s nothing serious,” Lee said. “All along we pretty much knew it wasn’t, but it’s reassuring. It’s something I’ve been playing with, so, like I said, we knew it wasn’t serious.”

Chicago manager Dusty Baker, whose team will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday after heavy rain postponed Wednesday night’s game, doesn’t know when Lee will return to the lineup.

Cubs trainer Mark O’Neal indicated the team will use extra caution with Lee, whose test results showed inflammation of the joint, but no serious concerns.

“We’re going to treat it with our standard medications,” O’Neal said. “We’re going to treat it with our therapy. Basically right now we’re listing him as day-to-day. Until he is able to swing with minimal discomfort, we’re not going to put him back out there.”

O’Neal discussed the results with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, and both agreed that Lee might miss Thursday’s games, too.

The Cubs lost Tuesday’s game 5-1 for their sixth straight defeat—one shy of their season-high skid from April 29-May 7.

John Smoltz will be looking to post his sixth straight win for Atlanta when he starts the second.

Smoltz won his fifth straight start in a 9-1 victory over Philadelphia on Friday. The 38-year-old Smoltz went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in June with complete games in his last two outings.

He had a solid six-inning outing Friday, giving up just one run and five hits while striking out seven.

“I probably didn’t pitch my best, but I made the pitches when I had to,” Smoltz said. “Thankfully, I had my slider today because that was the pitch that bailed me out.”

Marcus Giles was 3-for-4 with three RBIs Tuesday for the Braves, who moved 10 games above .500 for the first time this season. Atlanta has won four of five and 14 of 19.

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6-10 Record 14-7
4.26 ERA 3.06
70 K 169
49 BB 53
1.37 WHIP 1.15