CHICAGO (AP) -
is doing his best to make sure
's absence isn't hurting the
Starting in right field only because of a lingering injury to Bradley, Hoffpauir has been one of the
' hottest hitters. The 29-year-old rookie had another big night Tuesday, homering and hitting a tiebreaking sacrifice fly
's solid pitching in a 7-2 victory over the
It took eight years for Hoffpauir to make the team out of spring training and, with a .375 average, he's taking advantage
of his extended playing time.
''I've never doubted myself and I never will,'' he said. ''My confidence is what helps me play the game.''
Harden (1-1), coming off a poor outing in which he struggled with his control, gave up three hits and walked two while striking
out eight. He threw the same number of pitches (92) over six innings as he had over three innings of the Cubs' 5-2 loss to
Colorado last Wednesday.
''I really feel at home out there in the weather,'' said Harden, a Canadian who wore short sleeves despite pitching on a windy,
damp evening that started at 40 degrees and got colder. ''I was more efficient with my pitches than last time.''
(0-2), undermined by the Reds' bad defense and relief pitching, gave up five runs - two earned - and five hits in 4 2-3 innings.
''I'm better than that,'' he said. ''I can be better and I will be better.''
Like most pitchers the Cubs have faced recently, he wasn't good enough to contain Hoffpauir, whose second-inning homer made
it 1-1 and whose sac fly helped Chicago break open the game in the fifth.
Given that Bradley, the team's $30 million offseason acquisition, is batting .053, how tempted is Cubs manager
to keep Hoffpauir in the lineup?
''He's doing the job,'' Piniella said. ''But I need the other guy to get in there, to get some at-bats and to get himself
on track, too. Plus, Hoffpauir does a nice job pinch-hitting.''
Hoffpauir, who also can play left field and first base, knows his role.
''(Playing every day) gives you a chance to get into a groove, but obviously I don't think it's something that's going to
continue,'' he said.
''Milt's going to be back out there. He is the right fielder. My job is to bridge the gap. It's all about paying dues and
showing Lou and the management that you deserve that shot.''
Bradley, who has been out since April 13 with a sore groin, was expected to play Tuesday but Piniella opted against it due
to the weather.
Chicago's fifth-inning rally began with one-out walks to
. The Cubs loaded the bases when left fielder
's fly for an error.
Then came Hoffpauir's sacrifice fly and
's RBI single to chase Owings. Reliever
with a pitch and walked
, forcing in a run for a 5-2 Cubs lead.
''We gave them a bunch of chances,'' said Reds manager
, the former Cubs skipper who was booed repeatedly by the fans. ''The error really hurt. You can't give that club that many
Ramirez closed out the scoring with a two-run single in the sixth.
drove in two runs for Cincinnati with a homer and a single.
Notes: When a cat ran onto the field during the fourth inning, delaying the game for several minutes, WGN-TV cameras panned
to former Cubs star
in the broadcast booth. Back in 1969, a black cat crossed Santo's path at Shea Stadium and Chicago went on to squander a huge
division lead to the Mets - an enduring symbol of the Cubs' futile century. Tuesday's tabby had only a few black spots. ...
Bruce was in Cincinnati's lineup for the first time in four days; his hand had been swollen after getting hit by a pitch.
... It was the season's first home night game for the Cubs, who were 20-8 under the Wrigley lights in 2008. ... Reds second
is hitless in his past 21 at-bats.