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Don't blame WBC for Lilly's outing
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/9/2009 12:04 AM

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It would be easy to blame the World Baseball Classic, but we've seen this before.

We might be right in saying that Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly would agree with T.S. Eliot in saying that April is the cruelest month.

Lilly lasted long enough Wednesday night to get the victory as the Cubs beat the Astros 11-6. His line wasn't pretty: 5 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs, 4 home runs.

The 33-year-old lefty had some catching up to do after a long layoff from between his time with Team USA in the WBC to his final spring outings for the Cubs. Last Friday, Lilly had a tough time at Yankee Stadium.

A check of his game logs from last April shows similar results as he went 1-4 with a 6.46 ERA. In his first 4 starts, he gave up 4, 5, 5 and 5 runs and didn't pick up his first victory until April 22 on his way to a career high 17.

It seems Lilly has had some trouble the last couple years - WBC or no WBC - of getting his fastball, curveball and changeup all working at the same time.

Given his history and his temperament, Lilly figures to find a way to battle through it.

Soto to the doc: We may know more today and certainly by Friday about the health of catcher Geovany Soto.

Word out of Houston is that Soto will see team physician Stephen Gryzlo today and have his right shoulder examined. Soto came out of Tuesday's game because he felt sore after trying unsuccessfully to throw out Kaz Matsui trying to steal.

Manager Lou Piniella told reporters that Soto felt better Wednesday.

If the Cubs did have to put Soto on the disabled list, they have room on the 40-man roster to bring veteran Mark Johnson up from Iowa to back up Koyie Hill.

Fukudome finding it? It's too early to know whether Kosuke Fukudome has turned a corner, but he had an interesting night at the plate, tying a career high with 4 hits.

Fukudome, normally a patient hitter, swung at the first three pitches he saw, hitting a single in the first inning, another in the second and a double in the third. He finally saw some pitches in the fifth, walking on a 3-2 pitch. After grounding out in the seventh, he crushed a home run over the wall in right-center in the ninth.

Speaking of career bests, Mike Fontenot tied his career high with 4 RBI.

That's the kind of production manager Lou Piniella is looking for from his "left-hand" hitters, and if it keeps up, the Cubs figure to lead the NL in runs scored by a large margin.