A day after one key member returned to the Chicago Cubs’ lineup, they appear ready to welcome another back.
Trying to get healthy, the Cubs look to win consecutive games for the first time in over a week as they conclude their three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Chicago (10-9) welcomed back struggling slugger Milton Bradley, who made one start since suffering a groin injury April 12. Though he was 1-for-24 coming into the contest, Bradley went 2-for-4 and Alfonso Soriano homered for the second straight contest while driving in four runs in Chicago’s 11-3 win at Arizona.
The Cubs’ lineup could receive another boost with first baseman Derrek Lee likely to play Wednesday after missing the last two games with neck spasms.
Though Lee is batting .209, his presence can only be positive for a club that won for only the second time in seven games and hasn’t posted two straight victories since a three-game winning streak from April 17-21. The Cubs, who fell 7-2 to the Diamondbacks (8-12) on Monday, haven’t won a series since taking two of three against St. Louis in a rain-shortened set April 16-18.
“We’re in good shape, if you ask me,” Lee told the Cubs’ official Web site. “It’s early, and I think when we get guys back, we’ll start hitting our stride.”
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, though, is likely to miss a fifth consecutive game after straining his calf Friday in St. Louis.
“If it’s not any better then, we’re going to have to weigh all our options,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Ramirez, who’s hitting .358 with three homers and 14 RBIs.
Chicago is fortunate Soriano is swinging a hot bat. He is 5-for-12 with two home runs and five RBIs in three games since returning to the leadoff spot after going 1-for-8 while batting third in his previous two contests.
Soriano is 5-for-18 with a homer and three RBIs against Arizona’s scheduled starter Doug Davis (1-3, 3.67 ERA).
Davis is 7-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 14 starts versus the Cubs, but looks to bounce back from his latest setback.
“I don’t think the line does the outing justice,” Davis told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “At the same time, that’s the way baseball goes. You are going to have those hiccups that you have to battle. The next time you go out there, you just forget about that.”
Chicago counters with Ryan Dempster (1-0, 4.88), who allowed three runs and seven hits while striking out six, but didn’t factor in the decision of a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on Friday. The right-hander, who has not factored in the decision of his last two starts, has struggled against Arizona, going 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA in 10 starts versus the Diamondbacks.
Felipe Lopez had two hits and drove in a run Tuesday for Arizona, which failed in its attempt to win a season-high three in a row. Lopez is batting .321, but 4-for-23 (.174) with a homer against Dempster.