Maddon uses Minors tactic to help Strop

Maddon uses Minors tactic to help Strop

PHILADELPHIA -- Pedro Strop did not have a good outing Wednesday in St. Louis, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon found the perfect confidence-boosting moment for the reliever on Friday.

The Phillies had just scored in the seventh inning of the second game of the doubleheader, and had one on and two outs when Maddon called on the right-hander. The last time Strop had pitched, he entered in the eighth with a two-run lead and got the first out but then walked the next batter and gave up a single, and both runs scored. The Cubs eventually lost that game to the Cardinals.

"You needed to get him in and get him out," Maddon said of Strop. "One out was perfect right there. ... Once he got the one out, it was the perfect opportunity to get him to leave and feel good about himself. It's something you do in the Minor Leagues all the time. There's no reason you can't do it on the Major League level either, when a guy's struggled just a little bit, to get him in and out successfully so that he leaves the ballpark feeling good about himself and that he helped the team. That's always a good thing to do."

Strop is the Cubs' key right-handed setup pitcher, but the Cardinals have been a problem for him. He has given up nine runs on nine hits and six walks over 5 1/3 innings in nine games for a 15.19 ERA.

• The Cubs set their rotation for the upcoming four-game series against the Pirates, which begins with a doubleheader on Tuesday. Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.59 ERA) will start the first game Tuesday at PNC Park, and he'll be followed by Jon Lester (9-10, 3.50 ERA). Jake Arrieta (19-6, 1.99 ERA) will aim at his 20th win on Wednesday, and Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 4.08 ERA) will go Thursday.

Because of rain on Saturday, the Cubs pushed Dan Haren to Sunday, and opted for a "staff day," with Travis Wood to start. Maddon had planned on using relievers on Sunday, but Saturday's game -- delayed at the start -- had the potential to be further interrupted because of the weather, and the Cubs didn't want to waste a start by Haren.

• Jorge Soler went 1-for-2 with a double and drew a walk in a rehab start for Class A Myrtle Beach, which beat Winston-Salem to clinch the Carolina League Southern Division championship series. Soler will continue his rehab with the Minor League team. He's been on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a left oblique strain.

"The Pelicans have a new right fielder for a couple days," Maddon said of Soler. "It's good for them and good for us. He needs to play."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.