Lee, Ramirez finally producing

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs offense has finally begun to take off and it’s no coincidence that first baseman Derrek Lee and third baseman Aramis Ramirez are right in the middle of the sudden flood of runs that the team has scored (39 in the last six games).

Ramirez is 12-for-25 with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs on this west coast trip.

“We still have 70 games left,” Ramirez said. “With Cincinnati losing, now we’ll be 9.5 out. It’s tough, but we still have a lot of games against [St. Louis and Cincinnati]. We have a chance, we just have to do what we can right now.”

A bad first half for both Lee and Ramirez has general manager Jim Hendry in a trading mode, which may in some ways ignite the Cubs veterans.

“Well, that’s Jim’s decision,” Ramirez said. “That’s his judgment whether we are still in the race or not.”

Manager Lou Piniella looks at the Lee/Ramirez tandem as a key to the rest of the Cubs’ season.

“That’s the whole thing,” Piniella said. “We’ve talked about it all year. When the middle of the order hits, it sort of puts everything in focus and everybody relaxes and does their part. That’s the way every major league lineup works.”

  • Piniella said that after a side session and some intensive work in the training room, right-hander Carlos Silva will be able to start on Sunday. Silva has been suffering through a right upper calf injury.

    “We’ll get him out there,” Piniella said. “I don’t know how long he’ll go. But it’s a game where we can pitch with our entire bullpen [before the All-Star break]. Let’s see if he gives us four or five or six innings, then we’ll be very happy.”

  • Piniella was ejected after the fifth inning for arguing a bang-bang play at first base with umpire Jerry Layne. Piniella watched the rest of the game from his office in the clubhouse.

    “I thought he was out. [Layne] said, ‘I can’t hear you’” said Piniella, who then went out for a second time and was ejected. “Some guys have better hearing than others.”