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Take It Easy
by Phil Bencomo
A four-game skid isn't something you welcome with open arms, but it isn't the end of the world either.
Every team has its ups and downs -- what team, during the 6-month-long season, doesn't? The Cubs are not alone. The team has not drifted into uncharted seas. For that matter, it's already sailed these rough waters this season, during the second half of June.
Beginning June 17 against Tampa Bay, the Cubs lost eight of 12 games. The club was twice swept in a three-game series, and for the first time in 2008 lost four consecutive games. But it wasn't a sure sign of impending doom then, and it isn't now. Since June, even with the recent losses, the Cubs have gone 35-21. There's no reason to believe they won't straighten themselves out again.
Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano will be examined on Wednesday after leaving his start because of soreness in his right arm.
"He told our pitching coach he wasn't feeling good," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after Tuesday's game. "He went up with the trainer, and he'll see Dr. [Stephen] Gryzlo tomorrow, and we'll know more by then."
"If he can pitch, he'll pitch, and if he can't, we'll put [Sean] Marshall in the rotation and go from there," Piniella said. "That's the end of it."
Rich Harden's next start won't be until next week when the Cubs travel to St. Louis, an extended break that general manager Jim Hendry said was planned for when they acquired the right-handed pitcher.
With the Cubs sitting pretty, there's no need to push Harden or Zambrano. It would take a monumental collapse for the Cubs not to make the playoffs. Even a 12-11 record over the last 23 gives the team 97 wins. Maybe it costs the Cubs a few regular season wins, but I'd like the Cubs' power arms healthy and rested at month's end.