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06/05/09 11:31 PM ET

Soriano hoping knee problems in past

Chicago (27-25) at Cincinnati (28-26), 6:10 p.m. CT

CINCINNATI -- When Alfonso Soriano took the field for batting practice on Friday, he was laughing and smiling.

That's good.

On Wednesday in Atlanta, Soriano singled to lead off, and as he rounded first base, he pulled up and seemed to be in pain.

It turns out, it might have been a good thing.

"The other day in the first inning when he hit the ball down the line and he sort of stopped at first, I think he might have had some adhesions or something [in his left knee], and his leg started to feel better after that," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

The way Soriano made the turn may have broken up some scar tissue in his knee.

"He feels better, which is good to hear," Piniella said.

The Cubs need Soriano to get on track. After batting .284 with seven home runs and scoring 21 runs in April, the leadoff man hit .216 in May with five homers and 15 runs. In four games this month, he's 3-for-15.

"He sets the tone for us at the leadoff spot," Piniella said. "When he's on his game, our offense jells a lot better."

Pitching matchup
CHC: RHP Ryan Dempster (4-3, 4.48 ERA)
Dempster has been pitching despite a blister on his right middle finger and says it's not a problem. In fact, he's apparently had it all season but nobody knew until Piniella blurted it out after Dempster's last start on Saturday. Dempster has notched six quality starts, and in his last outing against the Dodgers, he held them to three hits while walking one and striking out five.

CIN: LHP Matt Maloney (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Maloney will be called up from Triple-A Louisville to start in his Major League debut on Saturday vs. the Cubs in injured pitcher Edinson Volquez's spot. Maloney went 4-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Louisville and worked a three-hit shutout in his previous start on Monday.

Jake Fox could get a start on Saturday in right field against Maloney. Fox has yet to start a game since being called up. "He deserves a chance to play up here," Piniella said. "It's just a question of whether the team is put together the right way to utilize his skills. We get him in Interleague Play, assuming he's still here, we could put him in the [designated hitter] spot, too, and let him get some at-bats that way." ... Milton Bradley ran in the outfield on Friday, and was available to pinch-hit. Bradley, who injured his right calf Tuesday in Atlanta, could return to the starting lineup Tuesday or Wednesday in Houston. ... The Cubs will make up Thursday's rained out game vs. the Braves on June 22 in Atlanta. First pitch will be 6:10 p.m. CT. ... Jeff Samardzija gave up four runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings in Iowa's 5-2 loss to Nashville. In the past six games, all losses, the Iowa Cubs have been outscored, 24-9. Sam Fuld has hit safely in his last five games, and was batting .381 in that stretch. ... Tennessee lost its 12th straight, 12-3, to Carolina. Tyler Colvin hit a two-out, two-run double. ... Robinson Chirinos and Dylan Johnston each homered in Daytona's 6-3 win over Charlotte. ... Justin Bristow gave up one run on three hits over five innings in Peoria's 4-1 win over Beloit. Rebel Ridling hit his sixth home run. ... The Chiefs had six players named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Josh Vitters, Kyler Burke and Josh Harrison were named starters, while Rebel Ridling, Chris Carpenter and Ryan Buchter were listed as reserves.

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Up next
• Sunday: Cubs (Randy Wells, 0-2, 1.69) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 7-4, 5.37), 12:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Cubs (Ted Lilly, 6-4, 3.28) at Astros (Brian Moehler, 2-3, 6.37), 7:05 p.m. CT

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.