Chicago (45-43) at Washington (26-63)

Heavy Thunderstorm/Windy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Jul 18, 2009
  • TV: WGN, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Just two games out of the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs added two more players to their growing injury list.

Fortunately for the Cubs, they have a strong chance for a healthier record with two more matchups against the majors’ worst team.

With left fielder Alfonso Soriano(notes) expected to miss another game and Saturday night’s scheduled starter skipping his turn, Chicago will try for a third straight win to open the second half as it continues a four-game road series against the woeful Washington Nationals.

Injuries played a large part in the Cubs’ lackluster first half with 12 players making trips to the disabled list before the All-Star Game. In the final week heading into the break, starter Ryan Dempster(notes) (fractured right big toe), catcher Geovany Soto(notes) (left oblique strain) and reliever David Patton(notes) (right groin strain) went on the DL.

On Friday, Chicago announced that Soriano dislocated his right pinkie in Thursday night’s 6-2 win and All-Star left-hander Ted Lilly(notes) would miss Saturday’s start with inflammation in his left knee.

“(Injuries have) been a problem,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella told his team’s official Web site.

Lilly is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday’s opener of a three-game series in Philadelphia, but Soriano isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup. He said his finger was so swollen he couldn’t grip his bat before Friday’s game.

The left fielder, who hasn’t homered since June 7, is hitting .234 this season, but was batting .357 (10 for 28) in his last eight contests.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Piniella said. “I think it’ll probably be a few days. I don’t think this thing will just go down in one day.”

Without Soriano, Chicago (45-43) used starter Carlos Zambrano’s(notes) two-run double and Aramis Ramirez’s(notes) solo shot for a 3-1 victory Friday night. Ramirez’s homer marked his first since returning from the DL on July 6, and the third baseman has hit .305 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs since 2005 against Washington.

Rookie right-hander Randy Wells(notes) (4-4, 2.72 ERA) is expected to move up one day to start in place of Lilly and will seek his fifth win in six starts.

He had a career-best four-game win streak snapped in the finale of Sunday’s doubleheader with visiting St. Louis. In a 4-2 loss, Wells matched a season high with four runs allowed over seven innings.

While trying to help the Cubs move three games above .500 for the first time since June 21, Wells will face a Nationals team that’s been outscored 14-3 in three consecutive losses and dropped eight of nine.

Washington (26-63) scored its lone run Friday on Willie Harris’(notes) bases-loaded walk in the first inning and is 1 for 23 with runners in scoring position in the last three games, including an 0-for-8 performance Friday.

“We have to find a way to get those runs in,” Washington manager Jim Riggleman

Making his first career start against Chicago, rookie right-hander Jordan Zimmermann(notes) (3-4, 4.50) will try to give Riggleman his first victory with the Nationals and earn his second win in 13 outings.

Zimmermann, who has a 2.70 ERA in his last seven games, recorded his third quality start in four contests Sunday in Houston but suffered the loss in a 5-0 defeat.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Wells Tex vs. J. Zimmermann Was
12-10 Record 3-5
3.05 ERA 4.63
104 K 92
46 BB 29
1.28 WHIP 1.36

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jul 18