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Tough day for Rodrigo Lopez as Astros batter Cubs 12-7

Catcher Geovany Sokeeps Astros’ Carlos Lee from scoring seventh inning Sunday Wrigley Field but Monday generally wasn’t kind Cubs.

Catcher Geovany Soto keeps the Astros’ Carlos Lee from scoring in the seventh inning Sunday at Wrigley Field, but Monday generally wasn’t kind to the Cubs. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 3, 2011 12:33AM

A revolving roster was the norm for Mike Quade in his minor-league managing days. It’s becoming the same for his Cubs, which isn’t necessarily a sign of progress.

Injuries have led to the promotions of outfielders Brad Snyder, Lou Montanez and Tony Campana and infielder DJ LeMahieu, and another stopgap could be needed if Alfonso Soriano is shelved after straining his left quadriceps in the first inning of a 12-7 loss to the Houston Astros on Monday.

That is where the feel-good idea of prospects diminishes. Even major-league-ready players such as shortstop Starlin Castro (2-for-5, double, RBI) and second baseman Darwin Barney (1-for-5, triple) will go through ‘‘growing pains,’’ as Quade put it. Each committed an error Monday in a forgettable loss.

And the other side of the prospect coin is a lack of homegrown replacements for the rotation. The Cubs have turned to veterans Doug Davis and Rodrigo Lopez after prospects Casey Coleman and James Russell failed to effectively sub for injured Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner.

Davis is winless in three starts, and Lopez faltered in his debut Monday, unable to hold a 6-3 lead beyond four innings. Clint Barmes and Hunter Pence connected on back-to-back homers off him in the fifth.

‘‘I threw some bad pitches and got punished for it,’’ Lopez said.

On a hot, windy day at Wrigley Field, J.R. Towles also homered off Jeff Samardzija (3-1) in the sixth and Jeff Keppinger off Scott Maine in the ninth. The Cubs had one homer from Carlos Pena in the first.

‘‘The situation with the roster in flux and all the things going on makes it tough, and to make your debut here in Wrigley [with the wind blowing out] is tough,’’ Quade said. ‘‘All we were looking for was to get through the fifth [Lopez went 42/3 innings]. But then the guys in the bullpen get extended. It’s going to be important that we get ahold of this starting pitching.’’

Quade and the Cubs point to the positives of having homegrown
talent to tap.

‘‘We’ve had [15] we’ve developed [on the current roster], and that’s a good thing,’’ Quade said.

Except when experience shapes contenders.

‘‘You know you’ll use the 40-man roster extensively, but this has
been a little more extreme,’’ Quade admitted.

Even with Snyder and Montanez on the bench, Quade turned to outfielder-in-training Blake DeWitt
(3-for-4, RBI, triple) after Soriano was injured. The veteran infielder has been hitting well and may get the majority of time if Soriano remains out, Quade said.

The loss dropped the Cubs’ record on this homestand to 3-4, including a lost series to National League Central rival Pittsburgh.

‘‘When all is said and done, let’s just put this behind us,’’ Quade said. ‘‘We have [Carlos] Zambrano going [today], and we can still win a series.’’

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