After LaTroy Hawkins' latest implosion, the Cubs planned on going with a modified version of a closer-by-committee with Chad Fox as their primary go-to guy.
But manager Dusty Baker's best-laid plans fell apart in the ninth inning of Monday's 10-6 victory over Cincinnati when Fox suffered what could be a season-endingand perhaps career-endingelbow injury.
Neifi Perez paced the Cubs to their second straight win, but the latest in a seemingly endless string of injuries cast a pall over the Cubs' clubhouse.
Fox, 34, who already has had two surgeries on his right elbow, was too distressed to comment after the game, and the Cubs declined to give details about the extent of the injury.
But Prior managed to speak eloquently on behalf of his teammates, who found a kindred spirit in Fox, a veteran who blended in seamlessly in the clubhouse.
"Sorry if I sound a little down but, obviously, we're all thinking about Chad and what happened," Prior said. "Obviously, we won the ballgame, and that's important, but your heart goes out to Chad.
"He's a great guy, a great teammate, and all that he's been through with his arm and battling back. I don't know the extent of his injury, but for him to be struck down again, it's tough."
Fox entered in the ninth with the Cubs leading 10-3. He served up a mammoth, three-run home run to Adam Dunn. After a one-out walk, he threw a pitch to Jason LaRue and held his left arm aloft as he grimaced in pain, walking off the mound.
"To see [Fox] and Nomar [Garciaparra] on the field in so much pain the last week or so, you don't want to see anyone in so much pain," Prior said. "When things creep up like this, it's frustrating. It's just tough."
Mike Remlinger finished the game, but Baker is unlikely to put the closer's load on the 39-year-old left-hander, who has endured several arm injuries himself over the years.
Prior, meanwhile, improved to 3-0, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings while striking out 10. It was the 16th career double-digit strikeout game for Prior. He left after six innings and 106 pitches, his longest outing of the season.
Perez homered and drove in four. Jeromy Burnitz, Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett drove in two runs apiece as the Cubs solved Paul Wilson and moved above the .500 mark at 10-9. They'll try to win three in a row for the first time this season on Tuesday night, with Carlos Zambrano facing Eric Milton.
But the loss of Fox was one that had the Cubs wondering if someone had a voodoo doll and some long needles.
They'd already lost Joe Borowski, Todd Walker and Garciaparra to injuries and are starting to feel like they're living through a rerun of last year's injury-plagued campaign.
"It's tough to take it when you get one guy back (in Prior) and another guy leaves (in Fox)," Baker said. "We just have to keep fighting the way we've been fighting."
CUBS 10, REDS 6
Night of highs, lows for Cubs
Fox suffers severe elbow injury; Prior dominant
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.