Was it the meetings? Was it the Stanley Cup buzz wafting from Chicago into Milwaukee.
Something seemed to put a charge into the Cub bats Wednesday night.
``Who knows if it helped or not, but we definitely had success tonight,'' said Derrek Lee, one of only two Cub hitters who didn't get called into Lou's office before the game for a quick, ``the-guy-playing-the-best-is-going-to-get-the-starts'' talk.
Five home runs later - including Lee's career 300th - the Cubs had a 9-4 win over the Brewers and a new high-energy look.
Of course, nine runs always looks like more energy than one. Even when seven of them are scored with a jog - including five on two pairs of homers by Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto.
Piniella said he just wanted to put a little ``urgency'' into a group that has struggled to score runs all season.
Winning pitcher Carlos Zambrano said he saw a difference in the energy level.
``Hopefully, this is the start of a good streak for us, winning streak and hitting streak,'' he said. ``Since the first day of the season, we know that we can hit. We just haven't been able to execute it. But one thing I know is we have good hitters. Unfortunately, we don't' look like that [this season], but this team is loaded.''
For Lee, the pursuit of his 300th home run was an exercise in putting it out of his mind.
``I was aware, but I wasn't going up there thinking let's try to get to 300,'' said Lee, who retrieved the home run ball and had it in his locker after the game. ``But now that I'm there it feels good. It's a nice accomplishment. It says that you've had some success over a period of time. It feels good.''
A long, long period of time compared to many in the clubhouse.
Lee remembered the first one almost as the 300th.
``Yeah, in San Francisco, '97 ...,'' he said.
He just didn't need to be reminded that Cub teammate Starlin Castro was 7 years old at the time.
``You shouldn't have told me that,'' he said, laughing. ``That's crazy. Yeah, you look up there and see he's born in 1990, and you know you're getting up there.''
Said Piniella: ``Congratulations to him. He's had a great career - a batting title, 300 home runs. Pretty impressive. And he's a good young man to boot.''