Wells seeking elusive first 'W'

Wells seeking elusive first 'W'

CHICAGO -- Randy Wells has pitched well enough to win, but has yet to get that elusive first Major League "W." Maybe Tuesday.

The rookie right-hander will open the Cubs' nine-game, three-city road trip on Tuesday in Atlanta. In two of his starts, Wells has not given up a run. In his last outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, he served up two runs over seven innings. He's struck out 23 in his four starts, and his 1.80 ERA is pretty impressive.

"I told him the other day, 'You're doing this because you're doing some serious pitching,'" Cubs lefty Ted Lilly said of Wells. "For me, there's no luck about it."

What Lilly -- and others -- have seen is that there haven't been many hard-hit balls off Wells.

"That's one thing you look at -- a guy goes out there and gives up quite a few well-struck balls and there's timely plays made," Lilly said. "But he's making pitches. It's really a good example for the guys coming up behind him in the Minor Leagues. The philosophy is you change speeds and locate the ball and you've got a chance to have success."

What a concept. Wells knows better than to try and throw 100 mph, yet he's still able to attack.

"It's that middle ground where you have to be aggressive but you can't be out of control," Lilly said. "You watch him and he's very much in control with his body. You don't see him overthrow. When you get that, that's why you see consistent command."

Pitching matchup
CHC: RHP Randy Wells (0-2, 1.80 ERA)
This was supposed to be Carlos Zambrano's start, but he's serving a six-game suspension for his antics in last Wednesday's game against the Pirates. Instead, Wells will try for his first win. The rookie right-hander has thrown three straight quality starts, but has yet to get a "W." On Thursday against the Dodgers, he gave up two runs on eight hits over seven innings and struck out seven. He threw 111 pitches, 70 for strikes. That's a good ratio.

ATL: RHP Kenshin Kawakami (3-6, 4.73 ERA)
Looking to improve his control, Kawakami has recently focused on attacking the strike zone early in the count. This approach worked on May 22, when he threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 27 batters and held the Blue Jays scoreless over eight innings. But with an average fastball that is occasionally flat, this approach could also prove costly against an aggressive lineup. The 33-year-old right-hander struggled with his control on Wednesday, when he issued four walks and allowed nine hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Giants.

The Cubs went 6-0 against the Braves last season but trail the overall series, 31-38. ... Rich Harden will throw off the mound on Tuesday, the next step in his rehab from a back strain. ... Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings and hit his first home run in Triple-A Iowa's 5-2 win over Memphis in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, Doug Deeds had three hits but Iowa lost, 3-2. ... Casey Lambert gave up six runs on nine hits over four innings in Tennessee's 10-7 loss to Huntsville. Welington Castillo had three hits, including a solo homer. ... Rafael Dolis gave up two runs, one earned, on four hits over five innings in Daytona's 3-2 win over Sarasota. ... Josh Vitters hit a two-run homer in the 14th inning to lift Peoria to a 7-5 win over Great Lakes. ... Tyler Colvin, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2006, was expected to be promoted to Tennessee. Colvin is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. ... Outfielder Richie Robnett was released. He was batting .184 at Tennessee.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Cubs (Ted Lilly, 6-4, 3.50) at Braves (Derek Lowe, 6-3, 3.49), 6:00 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 3-2, 4.22) at Braves (Jair Jurrjens, 5-2, 2.59), 6:00 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 4-3, 4.48) at Reds (TBD), 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.