Houston (63-69) at Chicago (66-64)

Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Wed Sep 2, 2009
  • TV: FSSW, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Milton Bradley(notes) is producing like the Chicago Cubs envisioned when they acquired him in the offseason.

Only problem, it took nearly five months, and the club is running out of time in the playoff race.

Bradley looks to continue his surge at the plate and help the Cubs take two of three from the Houston Astros in Wednesday’s series finale at Wrigley Field.

Chicago (66-64) signed Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract in January hoping he could duplicate the kind of season he had for Texas in 2008, when he hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs, and help the club make a run at the World Series.

Neither of those expectations are looking likely.

Bradley hit his 12th homer in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Astros (63-69) to help the Cubs remain six games back of wild card-leading Colorado.

The emotional right fielder has 37 RBIs on the season, and is batting .467 with three home runs, six RBIs and 11 runs in his last eight games after going hitless in 13 at-bats in his previous four. Bradley’s turnaround has come in unison with some disturbing comments he made about Cubs fans booing him following last Tuesday’s 15-6 loss to Washington.

The Cubs have won four of seven since.

Houston, meanwhile, has lost seven of nine following a four-game winning streak.

The Astros’ biggest problems have come on the road, where they’re 6-18 since July 18. Houston has two wins on a nine-game road trip that wraps up Wednesday.

Slugger Lance Berkman(notes) isn’t carrying the offense like he usually does, as he’s seeking his first homer since July 9. He’s hitting .167 with four RBIs in his last six games and is batting .091 with seven strikeouts in 22 at-bats against Ted Lilly(notes) (9-8, 3.35 ERA) since the left-hander became a Cub in 2007.

After spending a month on the disabled list because of left shoulder inflammation, Lilly has posted a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts, but is 0-1 in that span as he’s been backed by one total run of support. He allowed two runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win over the New York Mets on Friday with the Cubs rallying for four runs in the bottom of the eighth.

“You’ve got to score runs to win,” manager Lou Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “Unfortunately for us, we haven’t done it as consistently as I thought we would, and for me, that’s the biggest reason you’ve found us in the position we’re in.”

Lilly hasn’t earned a victory since beating St. Louis on July 11, but a start against Houston could be enough to get him one.

He has a 3.57 ERA in winning all three starts versus the Astros this season, and is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA in seven starts against them dating back to 2007.

Houston counters with Felipe Paulino(notes) (2-6, 6.96), who is set to make his first start since being recalled from the minors.

Paulino hasn’t started for Houston since allowing five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss to San Francisco on Aug. 4. The right-hander was sent to Triple-A Round Rock three days later.

Since being recalled on Aug. 18, Paulino has made two relief appearances, allowing three runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Paulino was terrible in his only appearance against the Cubs on May 7, getting knocked around for four runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning of relief.

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Starting Pitchers

F. Paulino Bos vs. T. Lilly LAD
3-11 Record 12-9
6.27 ERA 3.10
93 K 151
37 BB 36
1.67 WHIP 1.06

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Sep 2