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A Prior Engagement

MESA, Arizona -- Mark Prior didn't look great, and neither did the scrub-Cub offense (only two regulars, Bellhorn and Miller, started today), but the subs for the subs generated four runs in a wacky eighth inning, and that was enough for a 5-2 Cubs win today.

Prior was all over the place; he couldn't seem to find location, and he hit two batters in the first two innings. The first, coming with two outs in the first, must have rattled him, as he gave up two hits and two runs after that. After the first, he settled down and wound up with six strikeouts, snapping off some nice curveballs in the process. Juan Cruz threw two innings in relief of Prior, and like the last time I saw him throw at Peoria, he pitched lights-out.

Meanwhile, the sub-Cubs carried on from yesterday, as they had only four scattered hits through the first seven innings. Then Dusty started replacing the secondary lineup with backups and people who were on their last chance to make the team and two players -- Felix Pie and Aron Weston -- who will be playing A ball this year, and they scored four runs with no hard hit balls and only one ball leaving the infield.

Pie, who I saw play at Fitch Park on Friday, is a skinny kid, but Weston's even taller and skinnier, and singled and stole a base in the rally -- he looks like he could be a keeper if he could ever fill out. Pie popped a single into center and after a groundout and a HBP to Augie Ojeda (who I've been calling our little cuddly bunny mascot player), Lenny Harris singled in two runs. Much of this was off Jamey Wright, who the Brewers just picked up after Seattle let him go last week -- right after the Cubs pasted him around on Tuesday.

Harris is making a strong bid to stick with his key pinch-hits, and I'd guess Trenidad Hubbard solidified his claim on the last outfield spot with a spectacular running catch on a Jeffrey Hammonds drive. Hubbard also had a hit.

Dave Veres was used in the traditional "closer" situation, three runs up, brought in to start the ninth, which he closed out uneventfully.

Incidentally, the Brewers are a very bad baseball team and could easily lose as many or more than they did a year ago.

Human air-raid siren info: apparently he ran out of money and had to go home several days ago, to the delight of ears everywhere.

I also learned why HoHoKam Park has such lousy concessions and souvenirs: apparently the HoHoKams signed, years ago, a 15-year deal with Aramark, and Aramark wouldn't let anyone in to run grills, etc. like they have at the other parks. You'd think maybe Aramark would want to run stuff like this themselves, but maybe they're just too stupid. The contract has either two or three years to go, and after that the HoHoKams will sign a smarter deal.

Ran into Cheryl and George from the RF bleachers, both of whom had scorched themselves almost beyond recognition, and had to sit with wet towels covering their legs all day.

And Jon, Howard and I had dinner at a fish restaurant in downtown Scottsdale, where we spotted Billy Williams with his wife and another couple. This is the second time I've had such an encounter with Billy in the last year -- last May he was on the same flight that I was taking from LaGuardia Airport in New York, back to O'Hare.