9/1 Extra bases

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, and is batting .375 in that stretch with 10 runs, seven doubles and three RBIs. He’s now batting .317 and ranked fifth in the National League behind Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado and Albert Pujols. Could the rookie win a batting title?

“Why not?” Tyler Colvin said.

* Koyie Hill has hit safely in his last four games, going 7-for-16 (.438) with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs. More at-bats helps.

“My sister would be a better baseball player if she practiced every day and played every day,” Hill said. “My job is to catch when [Geovany Soto] needs a day off and they ask me to play. Your bench is going to play better when they get more at-bats. Just because the manager doesn’t get you more at-bats doesn’t mean he’s doing a bad job. That’s your role. You get an opportunity and you make the most of it. Then you go home, hug your family and you’re happy you’re a baseball player.”

* Thomas Diamond picked up his first ML win, pitching in relief of Tom Gorzelanny. Diamond has been working on a cutter for the last week or so.

“With Thomas, he’s really simplified everything and he’s really focused on what he needs to do and how he needs to do it and it’s proven to be successful for him,” Hill said.

The right-hander planned on giving the game ball from his first win to his 19-month-old son.

* Mike Quade is 6-3 since taking over for Lou Piniella on Aug. 23.

“We’ll try to win as many ballgames as we can for anybody,” Hill said. “Quade just happens to be the beneficiary of Lou going home and tending to his mom and dealing with family matters. I don’t feel like we’re playing with any more effort. We’re just playing a little bit better baseball and taking care of the ball a little better and it just happens to be Quade’s turn and we’re getting some wins.”

* Darwin Barney posted his first multi-hit game. … Scott Maine has not given up a run in his two outings at Wrigley. … Kosuke Fukudome is batting .364 since the All-Star break with eight doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs. In his last nine games, he’s hitting .519 (14-for-27).

— Carrie Muskat

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