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The Chicago Cubs may be without catcher Geovany Soto for their three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers .

But as a backup plan, Koyie Hill proved to be a more than adequate alternative Friday afternoon at Miller Park.

Hill reached base on a walk and a hit by pitch and nearly proved to be the hero with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

* Brewers : Weeks' smash and dash delivers home-opening win * Instincts pay off for Fischer * Oates: Brewers not worried about stoked expectations However, Milwaukee rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory in front of 45,455 fans, the second-largest crowd in Miller Park history.

So instead of being the hero, the last impression of Hill was of him slamming the ball down in frustration after Rickie Weeks slid under his tag at home plate for the winning run.

"It was the wrong way to act about it. I was just talking to my teammates about it. You get caught up in it sometimes. We wish things would have gone a little differently," said Hill, who hit .275 with a career-best 17 homers at Triple A Iowa last season before being called up Sept. 1 and appearing in 10 games.

"The tape showed (home plate umpire Jim Reynolds) made the right call and they usually do. Guys get caught up in the heat of the moment and come back and watch it on video and it's a different story. Those guys do a good job. They don't get a lot of credit but they're right an awful lot."

Manager Lou Piniella agreed that Weeks beat shortstop Ryan Theriot's throw home on Ryan Braun's grounder in the hole at short with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

"He had his hand in. I think the umpire was in real good position to call. It was a close play but I think he got his hand in," said Piniella, who nevertheless was pleased with Hill's performance.

"He did a nice job; he hit a two-run homer. He called a good game. What can I say?"

Before the game, Piniella said Soto most likely will not be available for the weekend series against the Brewers after he underwent an MRI exam on Thursday, which revealed inflammation in his right shoulder.

Piniella said Hill will take over until Soto can return. Infielder Aaron Miles would most likely be used behind the plate in an emergency. But Piniella didn't want to see that happen.

"We only have one extra infielder," Piniella said. "We don't want to be short a catcher and not have an infielder either.

"If Soto had to catch to finish a ballgame, he could do that -- forget the throwing part," Piniella said. "Let's hope there are no injuries. Let's hope that Hill can carry the load for a while and Soto is as ready as quick as possible and we'll go from there."

Soto deferred to the Cubs' medical staff when asked when he will return.

Piniella, though, wasn't optimistic.

"I would say (Saturday), probably not," Piniella said. "Sunday, I'll waiver a little bit. I wouldn't bet on it (Sunday). If it's too long, we can't continue to carry one catcher. We'll see. We'll just have to see how he responds to the rehab and the medication."

Soto, the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, had to leave Tuesday's game in Houston in the sixth inning due to discomfort in his shoulder. He was examined on Thursday in Chicago by Cubs orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo.

"I want to get out there as quick as I can and play for the club," Soto said. "I just want to get out there. We'll take care of it and move on."

Piniella said the Cubs' plan is to avoid placing Soto on the disabled list. They began the season without a player on the list for the first time in 23 years.

Hill, meanwhile, apologized for his outburst, blaming it on the emotion of a close play.

"On my behalf, it's no way to respond to it. I apologize for that. It's a competitive game and juices get going sometimes and things happen," he said. "But sometimes they're things you're not proud of."

As for his two-run blast off reliever Brewers' reliever Seth McClung on a 2-1 pitch in the sixth inning, Hill downplayed its significance.

"Who cares anymore? It's all for naught."

12:19 AM SAT., APR 11, 2009

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 14, 2009

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