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Cubs’ Randy Wells has to step up Saturday

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells winds up during first inning baseball game against WashingtNationals Nationals Park Wednesday July 6

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells winds up during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Wednesday, July 6, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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Updated: July 21, 2011 4:04PM

It might not be his last chance, but Randy Wells’ next start, Saturday against Houston, could determine whether he stays in the rotation five or six days later for another start.

With days off today and Monday, manager Mike Quade decided to skip hot starter Rodrigo Lopez in favor of the struggling Wells the next time through the rotation.

‘‘It’s a commitment from me to Wellsy right now to say, ‘Look, you’ve been a big part of this thing and keep working, but progress is important,’ ’’ Quade said.

As in, he’s pitching for his starting job?

‘‘I don’t know about that,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He needs to make progress, and I’d like to see him pitch the way I’ve seen him in the past.’’

Wells, who went to spring training needing to win his job, had a lights-out spring and continued that into his first start — until coming out of that with a forearm injury.

He’s 0-3 with a 7.38 ERA in nine starts since returning from the injury.

‘‘We’ll take a close look at Randy [on Saturday] and try to get him straightened out,’’ Quade said. ‘‘I’m hoping for as good an outing as we’ve seen from him in quite some time. And we’ll see from there.’’


Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (7-7) lasted only three innings in the extreme heat Wednesday, his second-shortest outing of the year. He went a third of an inning April 28 at Arizona.

Carlos Pena’s pair of errors on the same play in the fourth made it nine consecutive games with at least one error for the Cubs — the longest streak for the team since 1987.

◆ After a night’s sleep, Quade said he didn’t second-guess Tuesday night’s decision to leave Matt Garza in the game after seven scoreless innings in what turned into a 4-2 loss.

‘‘None at all,’’ he said. ‘‘Given the situation [with a tapped bullpen]. If we were fully loaded bullpen-wise, I think it would have been a different situation for me.’’

◆ The Cubs fell to a season-worst 21 games under .500.

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