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Chicago Cubs stay in the mix for division lead despite multiple injures

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Cubs were back in town to host the Pittsburgh Pirates for four games starting Thursday.

The Cubs have continued to battle through injuries and stay in the mix near the top of the NL Central Division. Going into Thursday's contest, the Cubs were a game-and-a-half out of first place behind Milwaukee.

Ian Happ was back in the Cubs lineup batting fifth on Thursday after manager Craig Counsell gave the slumping left fielder a couple of days off.

"You use it, essentially, to just give the player a break from having to perform," Counsell said. "When you're struggling, I gotta go and do it again for the guys, and just to give a break from that, I think, is helpful."

After two straight shutout losses, the Cubs scored seven runs in the series finale in Atlanta, led by Mike Tauchman, who stayed hot in the leadoff spot.

"I'm just trying to keep things simple in my routine," Tauchmann said. "Pitching is really impressive right now. So [I'm] not overreacting to simply getting beaten at bat. It's gonna happen over the course of the season."

Counsell said Tauchman's "swing of the bat, just to get us on the board for sure, is a good feeling and to score some runs and have a good offensive performance, it feels good, for sure."

Infielder Nico Hoerner remained out with a hamstring injury, but he did go through a more regular pregame as Counsell put it. He's hopeful Hoerner will be able to play on Friday.

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