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That's Not The Way I Always Heard It Should Be: Cubs 1, Astros 2

Ten BCB points to the first person who can identify the song the title of this post comes from.

If I had told you a week ago that Ted Lilly would give up only one run -- a solo HR to Carlos Lee -- and that Neal Cotts would pitch solidly in relief, you'd have figured the Cubs' first game after the break would be easily put into the win column, right?

Right. But Cubs bats looked sluggish last night; apart from a Jim Edmonds solo HR, they had only three other hits, and when Bob Howry blew up in the 9th, the result was a 2-1 loss to the Astros, who jumped around on the field after Miguel Tejada scored the winning run as if they had just won a playoff series, rather than simply crept to within six games of the .500 mark and 12 games behind the still front-running Cubs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals and Brewers both won, cutting the Cubs' NL Central lead to three games over St. Louis and four over Milwaukee.

What more can you say about this game? Lilly was sharp, which is a very, very good sign for the second half of the season, especially after Ted's last outing was one he'd probably like to forget. Neal Cotts, who may be on the bubble to be sent back to Iowa if and when Scott Eyre (who is traveling with the team) comes back, dispatched the two hitters he faced without incident. About the only thing that we really learned was that Howry simply cannot be trusted in close games. I might even suggest at this point that with less than half a year left on Howry's contract, his status in the bullpen might be in jeopardy. Could it be Howry who might be let go when Jon Lieber, who was placed on the DL yesterday with an injury none of us had seen coming, returns?

Micah Hoffpauir, who didn't get into last night's game, was recalled to replace Lieber on the active roster, but his stay will probably last only the length of the road trip -- Alfonso Soriano took BP and shagged flies last night (you probably saw this if you saw the game on WGN) and is tentatively on target for a return to action Thursday at Wrigley Field:

"Sori is going to hit here for all three days and if that goes well, he'll go with us to Arizona and work out at the [Mesa] complex and possibly get a lot of at-bats in an extended game Monday and then play with the Iowa team on Tuesday and Wednesday in Tucson," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "So he can double up on Monday and then come out and work out with us before the game [against the Diamondbacks] after playing in the morning. We'll just see how the next couple of days go -- that's the plan if it goes well."

I hesitate to mention this, because the game result really has nothing to do with where the game is televised, but the Cubs went under .500 in WGN-televised games last night (18-19). They are 32-14 in games shown on CSN. Thus you will be pleased to find out that there are 34 CSN telecasts left and 23 on WGN (the rest of the remaining 66 games: four on WCIU, two on Fox and three Sunday nights yet to be scheduled).

It doesn't matter. Right? Tonight's game is on CSN. Also, although only 18% of the country is getting the Padres/Cardinals game, Chicago is included in that percentage. The number of markets carrying this game is small enough to post here:

Bowling Green KY, Cedar Rapids IA, Champaign IL, Chicago IL, Columbia MO, Columbus MS, Des Moines IA, Evansville IN, Fort Smith AR, Green Bay WI, Greenwood MS, Huntsville AL, Jackson TN, Joplin MO, Kansas City MO, La Crosse WI, Little Rock AR, Louisville KY, Madison WI, Memphis TN, Milwaukee WI, Nashville TN, Oklahoma City OK, Ottumwa IA, Paducah KY, Peoria IL, Phoenix AZ, Quincy IL, Rockford IL, San Diego CA, Sioux City IA, South Bend IN, Springfield IL, Springfield MO, St. Louis MO, Terre Haute IN, Topeka KS Tucson AZ, Tulsa OK, Wichita KS, Yuma AZ

Know your enemy. In less than three weeks, the Cubs and Cardinals will have a showdown at Wrigley. Till then, a win tonight would be a good way to put this ship back in the right direction. (High enough on the cliché meter for you?)