CHICAGO -- The Cubs have tweaked their rotation and will start Steve Trachsel on three days' rest Thursday while Carlos Zambrano will get an extra day and go Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Trachsel threw 47 pitches over two innings Sunday against Pittsburgh and was roughed up, allowing six runs on six hits and one walk in the loss. He'll face Houston in the series finale at Minute Maid Park.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella had considered inserting rookie Kevin Hart into the rotation for Thursday so Zambrano could face the Cardinals, but opted for the veteran Trachsel.
"I don't think we really have much choice," Piniella said Monday. "He didn't throw many pitches yesterday in Pittsburgh, so it's not like he pitched six or seven innings."
Zambrano, who ended his personal winless streak with a win Saturday over the Pirates, is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA against the Cardinals this year.
Ted Lilly and Sean Marshall will start for the Cubs in Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Busch Stadium, and Jason Marquis will finish the series Sunday. Piniella said Zambrano and Lilly will come back on three days' rest for the series against Cincinnati from Sept. 18-19, respectively, with Rich Hill starting Sept. 17.
"Then everything would be back on track," Piniella said.
The Cubs did lose an off-day Monday to makeup the Aug. 19 game against the Cardinals, but still have two off-days remaining, Sept. 20 and Sept. 24.
"I don't know why you need two days off the last nine games of the season and then play 34 out of 35 days," Piniella said. "I don't understand that reasoning, but look, I'm not a schedule maker. To get everything back on track, we'll have to bring both [Zambrano and Lilly] on three days' rest.
"Our pitchers are fairly fresh," Piniella said. "We've watched their pitch counts all summer. we've got enough pitchers now with all these callups that if somebody's struggling or we have a big lead -- which we haven't had -- we can shorten somebody up."
Head to head: The Cubs will play the Cardinals five times in the next seven days and entered Monday's game 7-4 against the Redbirds this season. St. Louis was nine games back on July 27 and has inched back into the National League Central.
"This is a big advantage to Milwaukee," Piniella said of the Cubs and Cardinals going head to head. "You've got the two teams challenging them playing each other. They'll be picking up ground, assuming they win games against somebody. What we need to do here is get hot against St. Louis and hopefully get them behind us a little more."
September hasn't been great for the Cubs, who are 4-5 and batting .265. The pitchers have a 5.81 ERA this month.
"The starting pitching hasn't been all that good the past two weeks or so," Piniella said. "We've had some sporadic work where we get a good game. The guys who have pitched the best have been Lilly and Marquis. We need a little more consistency. They're capable of it. Everybody goes through little slumps. I'm not overly concerned."