The Cubs sent CF Corey Patterson, who hit a career-high 24 home runs last season, to their Class AAA team in Iowa.

The Cubs also sent OF Jason Dubois to Iowa and promoted OFs Adam Greenberg and Matt Murton from Class AA West Tenn.

Patterson, 25, has 19 hits in 120 at-bats since June 1. Overall, he is hitting .232 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI.

Patterson, the third overall pick in the 1998 draft, also had career highs last season with 72 RBI, 32 stolen bases and 168 hits. Dubois was hitting .239 with seven homers and 22 RBI for Chicago, which had lost eight in a row before last night's game.

* KENT EASES UP: Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent had a softer approach yesterday to his recent comments about Astros GM Tim Purpura.

Kent called Purpura unprofessional in a story in the Houston Chronicle, saying he had wanted to stay with the Astros when he was a free agent after last season. Before the Dodgers-Astros game, Kent's first time back in Houston, the tone was different.

"We tried to come back and that was what we wanted," Kent said. "But the circumstances at the time came together where I was meant to move on. There's no hard feelings and I hope people don't make a bigger deal of it than it is."

* PIRATES, MCCLENDON TALK: The Pirates have talked to Lloyd McClendon about returning for a sixth year as manager despite not yet having a winning season under him, and he is encouraged he will be back.

GM Dave Littlefield said there is no deadline for picking up McClendon's club option for next season.

"Dave and I have had conversations, and they've been very productive conversations," McClendon said. "Everything has been real positive."

The Pirates have broken in some promising young players, including 2004 NL rookie of the year Jason Bay, and have gotten rid of several expensive contracts.

-- From News Services

Corey Patterson had 24 homers and 32 steals last year, but is batting just .232 this season.