LOS ANGELES -- Derrek Lee did not start Sunday and Cubs manager Lou Piniella is hoping an extra day of rest pays dividends in the second half for the first baseman.

And his left fielder, Alfonso Soriano. And his third baseman, Aramis Ramirez.

Piniella said this is the first time Soriano has not fought him when the Cubs manager suggests a breather.

"If these guys would allow me to rest them a little, we could function more and use our bench," Piniella said.

But time off won't be the key factor in the second half. Both Lee and Ramirez need to rebound from a disappointing first half if the Cubs have any chance in the National League Central.

Lee was batting .233, although he's hitting .253 since June 16 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 23 games. Ramirez has been hotter, going 12-for-25 on this week-long road trip with four homers and nine RBIs.

"They're the key," Piniella said of the pair. "I've always hated to say one player, two players because it's a team. But you know when they do things offensively, our team responds.

"Ramirez has shown some really good signs on this trip and Derrek has done it, not on a consistent basis but he has shown signs, also," Piniella said. "I think the break will do both players good as I think it will do for the rest of our team."

Plus, Piniella said he feels the two will be more accustomed to hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo's approach. Jaramillo is the Cubs' third hitting coach in the last year.

"I've talked to Rudy at length and he feels we'll have a much better second half hitting the baseball," Piniella said. "If that's the case, I think you'll see us winning with more consistency."

Cubs unsure when Zambrano will return

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs have yet to get a progress report on pitcher Carlos Zambrano and have no timetable for his return in the second half.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Sunday he hoped to hear something early this week from general manager Jim Hendry, who was in Mesa, Ariz., to watch some of the Minor Leaguers.

Zambrano is on the restricted list as he undergoes treatment for anger issues. He was suspended for three days after a tantrum in the dugout June 25 in which he accused his teammates of not playing well behind him.

When Zambrano does return, he will need to pitch at one of the Cubs' Minor League teams to get in shape. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild has a plan in place for whenever the team gets the go-ahead.

"We're still in limbo as far as that's concerned," Piniella said of Zambrano's return.

Silva ejected in second for arguing call

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago's Carlos Silva was ejected from Sunday's game in the second inning for arguing a close play at first base in which the pitcher appeared to be correct.

The Dodgers had taken a 3-0 lead in the first on James Loney's three-run homer off Silva. In the second, Los Angeles loaded the bases and Matt Kemp hit a sacrifice fly. Andre Ethier was intentionally walked and Loney then hit a grounder toward Xavier Nady at first.

Nady picked up the ball and appeared to beat Loney to the bag, but first-base umpire Brian Runge called Loney safe.

Silva had run over to first and threw up his arms in disgust at the call. Runge then tossed him.

The Cubs right-hander was questionable for Sunday's game because of some discomfort in his right calf.

On Saturday, umpire Jerry Layne ejected manager Lou Piniella after he argued a close play at first base that replays also appeared to support the Cubs manager. Layne was behind home plate on Sunday.

Piniella ready to enjoy days off in break

LOS ANGELES -- Sunday was the last meeting of the regular season between the Cubs and Dodgers, and it could be the last time managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre square off in their respective dugouts.

Piniella is in the last year of his contract and his future beyond this season is uncertain.

"Let me tell you this, I played until I was almost 41 years old," Piniella said. "The day I took off my uniform, I never wanted to put it back on as a player. I never wanted to go up there and hit again, never wanted to go play the outfield again.

"When I do that as a manager, it'll be the same thing," he said. "I'll never want to manage another game and that'll be the end of it. No, I don't get nostalgic. I want to do the best I can humanly do for this team. I've been doing this for so long. Things have really changed since I started managing 23 years ago."

Piniella will spend the All-Star break in Chicago with his wife and youngest son.

"We're going to enjoy three off-days not thinking about baseball," he said.