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One win from 10,000, Cubs fly to Denver

One win from 10,000, Cubs face Rox

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs are on the verge of becoming only the second team in Major League history to win 10,000 games. They enter their two-game series against the Colorado Rockies with 9,999 wins. The New York/San Francisco Giants are the only other Major League team to top 10,000 wins.

"I remember when we won 5,000," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said Tuesday. "What an emotional day that was. We were so excited -- we realized we still had an uphill climb to 10,000.

"To be on the verge of that -- I've been here since the first one, and to get to 10,000, it's a long, hard struggle, and I'm looking forward to it."

Truth is, Dempster wasn't even born when the Cubs won their 5,000th game on July 19, 1940, against Brooklyn. Let's play along. If he was present for the franchise's first win on April 25, 1876, does he remember the first manager, Albert Spalding?

"He treated me great, he treated me very nice as a young guy coming up," Dempster said.

Keep in mind that this is 1876, not 1976, or even 2006.

Doesn't it seem strange that the Cubs are on the verge of 10,000 wins, more than the New York Yankees, yet the Yankees have won 26 world championships?

"It's not about trophies," Dempster said. "It's about wins."

He's joking, folks.

"That's crazy," Chicago's Daryle Ward said of the fact the Cubs are closing in on 10,000 wins, yet there's a 100-year drought without a world championship. "You'd think there would be a World Series or something like that with as many wins as they've won. It's hard to explain that. You have to go deep back in history to find out what happened. They only had two divisions back then -- you could win every year and come in second place. That might be the answer."

Ward was serious. Cubs manager Lou Piniella can reach a milestone as well in the Mile High City. With one more win, Piniella will become the 14th Cubs skipper to reach 100 wins. He's not the fastest. Cap Anson was the quickest, with a 100-36 record on Sept. 15, 1880. Then there's Frank Chance, Jim Frey, Tommy Burns, Charlie Grimm, Johnny Evers, Rogers Hornsby and Gabby Hartnett. Dusty Baker reached 100 wins with the Cubs on April 25, 2004, with a 100-80 record. Piniella was at 99-83 heading into Wednesday's game.

"We have a good team, and we're expected to win," Ward said. "It's going to be a big deal [to get 100 wins] but not as big as it would be for fans. I know Lou, and I know he expects us to play well. Who knows, we could possibly win 100 this year. That'd be nice."

Pitching matchup
CHC: LHP Rich Hill (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Hill is breathing a lot easier now. The young lefty picked up his first win in his last start on Friday against the Pirates. He had spent a week working on the side, and it paid off. Against Pittsburgh, he gave up one run on three hits and three walks while striking out four. The lefty still has some issues to resolve, but this was an important first step. However, Coors Field may not be the best place for his next start. He is 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA in two games there.

COL: LHP Franklin Morales (1-1, 6.60 ERA)
After helping the club to the playoffs in a late callup last season, Morales is finding things more difficult as a member of the Opening Day rotation. But just when Morales was starting to look overwhelmed, he took a giant leap forward in his last start, a victory over the Astros. His team scored six first-inning runs, but he gave up four in the bottom of the frame. By doing what the Rockies asked -- quickening his tempo, not thinking as much -- Morales righted himself and didn't give up a run the next four innings.

Tidbits
Mark DeRosa has a season-high nine-game hitting streak and is batting .367 during that stretch. ... Relievers Scott Eyre and Chad Fox have joined Class A Daytona to begin Minor League rehab assignments. ... Donnie Veal gave up no earned runs over five innings and notched the win in Double-A Tennessee's 6-3 victory over Carolina. ... Last year, the Cubs were 5-2 against the NL champion Rockies, although they were 2-2 in Colorado. The Cubs swept the three-game series in Chicago last June 25-27. ... Some trivia: The last time the Cubs and White Sox were in first place at the same time after a significant number of games (and we're not including first week standings) was May 23, 2004, when both teams were 25-18. In 2003, both teams were in first at the same time as late as Sept. 9. The Cubs were 77-67 at that time, and the Sox were 78-66.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN+

On radio
• WGN 720

Up next
• Thursday: Cubs (Jason Marquis, 1-0, 3.86) at Rockies (Aaron Cook, 2-1, 3.12), 2:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 3-0, 3.00) at Nationals (Odalis Perez, 0-3, 3.38), 6:35 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 3-1, 2.67) at Nationals (Matt Chico, 0-4, 6.04), 6:10 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.

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