Cubs Head Out West

Derrek Lee's season unraveled the last time the Chicago Cubs first baseman visited Dodger Stadium.

Lee hopes for a better day there Friday when the Cubs open a three-game road series with the NL West-leading Dodgers.

Lee fractured his right wrist in a collision with Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal on April 19 last season, landing him on the disabled list for more than two months.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -115 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -115 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Lee, who also went on the DL from July 24-Aug. 28 with inflammation in the wrist, played only 50 games in 2006.

"I'll get out of the way," Lee told the Cubs' official Web site when asked what he would do if he sees Furcal running at him this time.

This season, Lee has managed to avoid the DL, but he did miss seven starts earlier this month because of neck spasms. The Cubs (21-24) are hoping he can stay healthy, as he leads the majors with a .370 batting average.

Lee went 1-for-4 in Thursday's 3-1 win over San Diego, singling in the ninth inning and scoring the go-ahead run as the Cubs avoided a sweep. The hit was his first in 12 at-bats since returning to Chicago's lineup on Tuesday.

"It feels good to contribute," Lee said. "It's been frustrating because we haven't been doing a good job of making contact."

The Cubs rank second in the National League with a .269 batting average, but had scored just two runs in losing the first two games of the series. They entered the ninth inning Thursday with four hits in their last 25 at-bats with men in scoring position, but scored two runs, both on groundouts.

"Whatever it takes," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "If we can get this darn offense untracked. But it's nice to win a baseball game."

The Dodgers (27-20) beat Milwaukee 5-1 on Wednesday for their consecutive wins after dropping four straight, including a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Angels last weekend. Russell Martin matched a career high with four RBIs despite getting a home run call reversed.

Derek Lowe (4-5, 3.84 ERA) will take the mound in Friday's opener. He allowed four runs and nine hits in an eight-inning, complete-game 4-1 loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels.

Lowe has thrown all three of the Dodgers' complete games since the start of last season, including two this year.

"Derek had his best stuff all season long," manager Grady Little told the Dodgers' team Web site. "He deserved a much better fate."

Lowe is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs. Lee is 8-for-17 (.471) with a homer and four RBIs all-time against him.

The Cubs will counter with Ted Lilly (4-2, 2.69), who won his second straight start last Friday, allowing three runs in seven innings of a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He is 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA in his last five starts since losing consecutive outings, and has lasted at least six innings while giving up three runs or less in all but one of his nine outings.

With the addition of Sean Marshall to the rotation, Lilly's start was pushed back a day to stagger Chicago's left-handed starters. He is undefeated in three road starts, going 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA.

Lilly is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career appearances against the Dodgers and gave up one run in 7 1-3 innings in a 7-1 victory for Toronto on June 8, 2004, in his only start against them.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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