Chicago Cubs defeat Houston Astros, 14-7

Tuesday was nearly four years to the day when Cubs general manager Jim Hendry secretly settled on Lou Piniella as his high-profile replacement for Dusty Baker.

When Piniella was finally introduced as Cubs manager in October 2006, he didn't know the difference between the South Side and North Side, and Sweet Lou thought Michigan Avenue was called the Michigan Mile.

These days, Piniella has a rare perspective of Chicago thanks to 3 1/2 seasons managing the Cubs.

LOU'S ...

Nobody around the Cubs on Tuesday was surprised to hear that Lou Piniella plans to retire after this season.

The writing has been on the wall since at least last winter and the indications stronger every time he talked about his future the last month or so.

He all but blurted it out during a sit-down with two of the team's beat writers two weeks ago in Arizona, during which he made past-tense references to the job and talked freely of travel and family plans.