Los Angeles (72-65) at Chicago (70-66)

Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Sep 4, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

In 1998, Steve Trachsel won a game that put the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

The NL Central leaders hope his return after eight years can yield similar results in the tightly-contested division race when the Cubs continue a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

Trachsel spent seven seasons with the Cubs from 1993-1999, compiling a 60-69 record and 4.35 ERA over 186 starts and one relief appearance before he signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent.

He later spent time with Toronto and the New York Mets before joining Baltimore at the start of this season. The right-hander went 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 starts with the Orioles before he was acquired last week for two minor league players.

Known for his slow and deliberate pitching style, Trachsel had his best season with the Cubs in 1998 when he won 15 games, including a victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 28 in a one-game playoff that sent Chicago into the postseason for the first time since 1989.

“Coming back to Chicago is definitely a comfort level for me,” Trachsel said. “A lot of people I know are here still. The situation is definitely something to try and take advantage of.”

Trachsel is 32-36 with a 4.16 ERA in 99 starts and one relief appearance with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He is 4-10 with a 4.02 ERA in 21 starts against the Dodgers (72-65), who he hasn’t faced since September 2006 while with the Mets.

He pitched twice as a visitor at Wrigley, going 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA, including a win last July 14 with the Mets.

His return to Chicago comes as the Cubs (70-66) battle the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central title. Chicago lost 11-3 in its opener against the Dodgers on Monday following yet another difficult afternoon for Carlos Zambrano, who lasted only 4 1-3 innings after allowing eight runs and seven hits.

Zambrano, who signed a $91.5 million contract extension on Aug. 17, fell to 0-5 with a 9.42 ERA over his last five starts. He left Monday’s game to a chorus of boos from the Wrigley Field fans, and pointed to his head once he reached the Cubs dugout.

“I don’t understand why the fan were booing at me. I can’t understand that,” Zambrano said. “They showed me today they just care about them. That’s no fair. Because when you are struggling, that’s when you want to feel, the support of the fans.”

Despite the loss, Chicago remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers and two ahead of the Cardinals.

While Zambrano struggled, Esteban Loaiza pitched seven effective innings in his first start with the Dodgers since being claimed off waivers on Wednesday. Loaiza also had a two-run single in the fourth inning for his first major league hit since Aug. 26, 2005.

The Dodgers, who have won six of eight games, are four games behind first-place San Diego in the NL West and three games behind Arizona in the wild-card race.

Brad Penny (14-4, 2.88 ERA) takes the mound for Los Angeles seeking to win at least 15 games in a season for a second straight year. He allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, but Los Angeles went on to win 10-9 in 12 innings.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.60 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs. Penny is just 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA in his last 10 starts after going 10-1 with a 2.39 ERA before the All-Star break.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Penny CWS vs. S. Trachsel Bal
16-4 Record 7-11
3.03 ERA 4.90
135 K 56
73 BB 76
1.31 WHIP 1.59


Tuesday, Sep 4