Just as the Chicago Cubs are on a roll, when all facets of their game are clicking and they have one of the best records in the majors, they are confronted with a staggering loss.
Star leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano could miss six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand after he was hit by a pitch from Atlanta's Jeff Bennett on Wednesday night.
"That's a real bummer," Chicago starter Ryan Dempster said after pitching a four-hitter for his first complete game since Sept. 25, 2002, as the Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 7-2.
"It's hard to sit back and enjoy the victory when one of your best players, one of the leaders of your team, goes down. He's proven in the past he's a pretty darn quick healer. It's up to the other guys to pick him up."
After he was hit in the second inning, Soriano left the game and went to a hospital for X-rays. He will be in a splint for three weeks, Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said.
Soriano was on the DL earlier this season with a calf injury -- the Cubs were 9-5 during his absence -- and was just beginning to look comfortable on the bases. After a slow start this season, he came off the DL the first time and during one stretch last month hit seven homers in six games.
"He was just starting to run the way we thought he could, playing well in the outfield and hitting the ball with some power," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "A bad break for us. Just an unfortunate thing. ... It's a shame, it really is. Things happen in baseball."
Bennett made an emergency start after Jair Jurrjens twisted his ankle on the steps leading from the Braves clubhouse after Tuesday night's loss.