All-Star Ted Lilly Leads Cubs to 8-2 Victory, Ramirez and Johnson Return

Sayre BedingerSenior Writer IJuly 6, 2009

After leading Major League Baseball in 2008 with nine all-stars, the Chicago Cubs will send just one player to St. Louis for the midseason festivities.

Left handed pitcher Ted Lilly (8-6) will represent the Cubs in 2009, and proved why after leading Chicago to an 8-2 victory over the second place Milwaukee Brewers.

Lilly capped off the biggest series of the season yet for the Cubs, who needed to take at least three from the Brewers in order for this four game set to be considered a success.

Coupled with a St. Louis victory over the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs have now improved to 40-39 on the season, and have moved back into third place in the National League Central.

Lilly's winning effort was the 99th of his career, and he pitched a solid 6.1 innings with only two earned runs and nine strikeouts.

He also got some help from the inconsistent Cubs' offense, which clearly is capable of producing large amounts of runs at any given time.

Derrek Lee has been the catalyst for the Cubs' offense this season, particularly the past five games in which he has hit a total of four big-flies, increasing his total on the season to 15.

In fact, according to ESPN.com, Lee is hitting .323 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI since May 1.

There is a dilemma with the Cubs' lineup, however.

Despite the fact that they took three of four games from the Brewers, Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry will have to decide which hot-hitting youngster to send back to the minor leagues due to the return of third baseman Aramis Ramirez, outfielder Reed Johnson, and right handed pitcher Angel Guzman.

Andres Blanco is really the only backup shortstop the Cubs have on their roster, and his glove is very valuable.

Micah Hoffpauir is definitely not an option to be sent down, simply because he has played well this season and gives the Cubs a left-handed bat with some pop off the bench.

Jake Fox is having the season of his life at multiple levels of baseball, and the Cubs need his bat with their struggling offense. 

That leaves Sam Fuld, who has only hit .364 with an on base percentage of .462, rotating in the outfield with Alfonso Soriano.

In the end, the most likely option seems that the Cubs will send two pitchers and Sam Fuld back to the minor leagues.

"This is going to be a very, very not only difficult, but interesting decision," manager Lou Piniella said.

"It's not going to be easy, this is not clear cut.

Either way, the return of Aramis Ramirez is the biggest roster move for the Chicago Cubs all season long. 

With Ramirez in the lineup, everything else seems to take shape for the Cubs. 

Similar offensive droughts have occurred when the Cubs are missing Lee or Soriano from the lineup.

Whatever has gone wrong with the Cubs' 2009 lineup, it sure has not been for a lack of support from the pitching staff.

Chicago's pitching staff has been as good as advertised this season, ranking in the top five in ERA, batting average, and OPS.

Fifth starter Randy Wells, who takes the mound tomorrow against the Atlanta Braves, leads the stellar group of starters with a 2.43 ERA. 

Wells has not gotten the national publicity that he should due to the fact that he gets virtually no run support, but he has won his last three decisions and does not figure to veer from that streak tomorrow night.

The Cubs have found new life with the All-Star break looming, and they have the chance to take the lead in the NL Central before that game is even played. 


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