CHICAGO -- All Xavier Nady needed was more playing time.

Nady has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, batting .373, and in 20 of his last 21 starts since Aug. 8, hitting .350 in that stretch. The first baseman was batting .345 since taking over for Derrek Lee on Aug. 19 after Lee was traded to the Braves.

"This is who he's been throughout his career," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Nady, a career .280 hitter. "He's a guy coming off an injury and a full year off last year or most of the year off, and it's taken a while."

Nady appeared in only seven games last season before he was sidelined with elbow problems which required Tommy John surgery.

Feeling great, Silva ready to start Tuesday

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva is looking forward to Tuesday's start, his first since Aug. 1.

"I feel very good, I feel great," Silva said Sunday. "My arm, my velocity, I feel really good."

He's had no trouble with his heart since his last start, when he was pulled after four batters because of an abnormal heart rate. Silva underwent a cardiac ablation on Aug. 9 and has felt strong in his side sessions and two rehab outings with Class A Peoria.

"[The doctor] said I should feel a lot better than before and I should feel like a new guy," Silva said.

He's already compiled a 10-5 record this season, which is a huge improvement after struggling to post 5-18 record in two seasons with the Mariners.

"That's what I want to do is finish strong," Silva said. "What happened before is already gone -- the bad things, the good things. Right now, the only thing I'm looking for is to finish strong and have a positive mind for next year. It's like when you get hurt, you want to pitch one more game before the season ends because you want to be positive and feel healthy."

Aramis gets 1,600th hit, but leaves game

CHICAGO -- Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez notched his 1,600th career hit with an RBI single in the first inning Sunday and picked up No. 1,601 with a two-run homer in the third.

But Ramirez had to leave the game in the eighth because of soreness in his right quad. The third baseman will be evaluated again Monday. Cubs manager Mike Quade said they weren't sure of the severity of the injury.

Ramirez, 32, recorded his 25th multihit game of the season and now has hit safely in 10 of his last 16 games.

The third baseman connected off the Mets' Jonathon Niese for his 22nd home run. Ramirez reached 20 homers for the eighth time in his career.

With Ramirez hurt, Quade inserted backup catcher Koyie Hill at third in the ninth. It's the second time in Hill's pro career he has played there, also getting an inning at third on April 30, 2009, against Florida.

Hill and Quade had a little discussion in the dugout before he took the field.

"I was trying to talk my way into playing center [field]," Hill said. "[Quade] asked if I wanted to play second or third, and I said, 'Center field.' He said, 'Second or third,' and I said, 'Pitcher.' He said, 'Second or third,' and I said, 'Second,' and he sent me to third."

No balls were hit to Hill in the ninth.

Castro makes mental error on bases

CHICAGO -- In the eighth inning Saturday, the Cubs had runners on first and second and none out against the Mets, and rookie Starlin Castro was at the plate.

Castro is the Cubs' hottest hitter, ranked third in the National League in batting with a .317 average. But manager Mike Quade signaled for a bunt.

Castro did, and was successful. The runs didn't score but the Cubs held on to win. When Quade saw his brother later Saturday night, he asked why he called for a bunt. A few fans asked as well.

"It was a teaching moment," Quade said.

Sometimes fans -- and manager's brothers, too -- have to remember Castro is 20 and skipped the Triple-A level.

The kid shortstop made a mental mistake Sunday. The Cubs had one on and one out in the seventh against the Mets when Castro hit a grounder for a force at second. The rookie headed for the dugout after that out, apparently thinking the inning was over. It wasn't. Shortstop Ruben Tejada had held onto the ball, watching Castro, and when the rookie realized his mistake and tried to get back to first, Tejada threw to Ike Davis.

"That's a first for me," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

"The mistakes of youth showing up again," Quade said.

There was some confusion because the Cubs manager actually was headed out of the dugout to debate the first call.

"I was in the process of heading for second, a little frustrated, and was going to argue a call that I'm sure [umpire Brian Gorman] got right," Quade said. "I was caught off guard completely. I thought the inning was alive. Normally, when I leave the dugout and head for the field, one of the umpires calls time. I was a little surprised."

So was Castro.

Cubs to keep eye on starters' pitch counts

CHICAGO -- Cubs starting pitchers may be pulled a little earlier in games in the final four weeks of the season to give the bullpen more opportunities.

Cubs manager Mike Quade and pitching coach Larry Rothschild want to keep an eye on the pitch counts of their starters. For example, Carlos Zambrano was lifted after 102 pitches Saturday.

"'Z' would throw 180 if we let him," Quade said Sunday. "I think that at this time of year for people to be effective and strong, it's something you need to pay attention to. That does not mean somebody can't go out and spin 120 awesome pitches and throw a nine-inning no-hitter or a shutout or whatever.

"My experience watching Major League seasons and knowing this time of year, you're going to get more out of your people if you're careful down the stretch," he said. "It's a matter of being prudent."

Plus, they'd like to evaluate the relievers a little more and this will put a little pressure on the young pitchers.

"Part of the reason the starters have gone late into games is because the bullpen has been slow to come around in the middle area," Quade said. "Every starter will benefit from a bullpen that can pick them up. The more confident you are in the bullpen, the more prudent you can be."

Iowa Cubs need win to clinch division

CHICAGO -- The Iowa Cubs face a must-win situation Monday.

Allen Craig hit a RBI single with one out in the 15th inning off Jeff Gray Sunday to lift Memphis to an 8-7 win over Iowa.

The two teams will square off Monday at Principal Park in Des Moines. If Iowa (82-61) wins, it will clinch the Pacific Coast League American Division and advance to the playoffs. If Iowa loses, Memphis (81-62) would win the tiebreaker and advance.

Iowa starter Jeff Samardzija gave up seven runs in six innings, including four in the first. Both managers were ejected as Iowa's Ryne Sandberg was tossed in the bottom of the first and Memphis' Chris Maloney gone in the sixth.

Matt Camp, Jason Dubois and Bryan LaHair each drove in two runs for Iowa.