Weather provides rest for bullpens

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Cardinals' game against the Cubs was rained out Sunday.

CHICAGO -- The bullpens of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals got a much-needed break from the weather Sunday night.

Steady rain and an ugly forecast postponed the conclusion of their four-game series, which will be made up July 12 as part of a day-night doubleheader. It was called about 3 hours before the scheduled first pitch.

"No question, our bullpen could use a break," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "There's no question about that."

The Cardinals won the first game of the series and the Cubs won the next two, both in dramatic fashion. Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of Friday's game, and Aramis Ramirez hit a game-winning two-run homer in the 11th inning Saturday.

The back-and-forth games put pressure on both bullpens.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was forced to use situational lefty Dennys Reyes in the 11th inning Saturday, and he was tagged by Ramirez with the game-ending home run. La Russa didn't want to be forced into that situation again.

"There are two things you don't want to do, if you take the worst-case scenario," La Russa said. "You don't want to get embarrassed, in this rivalry or anytime, especially if a lot of people are watching. The second thing is you don't want to penalize one of your key guys, like [Todd] Wellemeyer, if he's struggling and not having a good day."

Piniella was forced to use closer Kevin Gregg for two innings Saturday.

"St. Louis was basically in the same situation we were, bullpen-wise," Piniella said. "To me, early in the season, with cold weather, wet fields, you can get some injuries. That's my biggest concern."

The Cubs and Cardinals meet for a three-game series in St. Louis beginning Friday.

The Cardinals are off today and begin a three-game series against the New York Mets on Tuesday night. The Cardinals will go with a four-man starting rotation, pushing Wellemeyer back to Tuesday. Joel Pineiro is scheduled to start Wednesday, with Adam Wainwright and Kyle Loshe to follow.

Ted Lilly was scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Cubs, who are off today before opening a three-game series against the Reds. The Cubs decided to push Lilly back to Wednesday and Rich Harden will make his scheduled start Tuesday.

"Lilly's been a little sick. It gives him an extra day," Piniella said. "Also, we keep everybody else pitching on regular turn."

Piniella is hoping to have outfielder Milton Bradley back in the lineup Tuesday. Bradley, in a 1-for-19 slump, has been out of the starting lineup for five straight games because of a right groin strain.

"I would think there's a good chance to see him Tuesday night. I would say that the chances are good," Piniella said.

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