for this game

Zambrano leads Cubs over Cardinals in NL Central showdown

Sep 15, 2007 - 5:05 AM By Chip Sotolar PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) - In a battle of aces, it was Carlos Zambrano who came out on top.

Zambrano pitched eight strong innings and Cliff Floyd homered as the Chicago Cubs edged the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-3, on Friday.

Zambrano (16-12) showed why the Cubs signed the righthander to a five-year, $91.5 million contract extension, as he allowed one run and four hits while striking out three and walking two en route to tying his career high in wins.

"I was feeling good today," Zambrano said. "I don't think I can pitch any better. I've been using my fastball and my cutter more for strikes. The key in this game is to throw strikes and get ahead in the count."

"He really looked focused out there," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He was in command. Big Z today really, really pitched well. He was focused and was in command of that game."

The victory increased the Cubs (76-71) lead in the National League Central Division to 1 1/2 games over the Milwaukee Brewers (74-72), who lost to Cincinnati, and six games over the Cardinals (69-76), who have dropped their last eight games as their playoff hopes dwindle.

Zambrano dominated the first five innings as he allowed only two infield hits before Albert Pujols tied the game with two outs in the sixth inning. The Cardinals' slugger hit Zambrano's first pitch into the right-center field stands for his 31st homer of the year.

"I made one mistake to Pujols," Zambrano said. "He's a great hitter."

The game didn't stay tied for long, as Floyd led off the seventh with a solo home run off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, his eighth of the season, giving the Cubs a 2-1 advantage.

"I was looking fastball and I put a good swing on it," Floyd said. "Winning the first game eases the pressure off of you a little bit. It's a tough four games but we know what is at stake."

"(Pujols) hits a homer there and I give the run right back," Wainwright said. "I have people telling me you threw the ball great and all this but the fact is a tie game you can't give up a home run in the seventh inning like that to a dangerous hitter. That was a bad job of pitching on my part."

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa adjusted his pitching rotation by moving Wainwright back a day in order to have the 26-year-old righthander face the division leaders.

Despite suffering the loss, Wainwright (13-11) didn't disappoint, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings to drop to 0-3 in seven appearances against Chicago.

"I thought he carried it (well) through seven innings," La Russa said. "I thought it was a very important start for now and his future and he handled it very well. He gave us a great chance to win."

The Cubs opened the scoring in the fourth inning off Wainwright as Aramis Ramirez hit a ground-rule double down the right field line with one out and went to third on Floyd's groundout. Mark DeRosa fisted a 1-0 pitch into right field to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Chicago cemented the game in the ninth, adding three insurance runs as Daryle Ward, who pinch hit for Zambrano, stroked a bases-loaded double over the head of Jim Edmonds in center field, giving the Cubs a 5-1 lead.

"Your just hoping that (Jason Isringhausen) makes a mistake," Ward said. "Isringhausen is really good. He usually throws cutters. I was kind of surprised that he threw me a sinker that was out over the plate. It was a rare mistake he made and I was able to capitalize on it."

"I was trying to throw a sinker down," Isringhausen said. "(Ward) stayed on it good and it kept slicing away from Jimmy (Edmonds)."

Edmonds and Ryan Ludwick each hit solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth off Cubs closer Ryan Dempster, narrowing the Cubs lead to just two. After Yadier Molina singled to left, Dempster was lifted in favor of Bob Howry, who gave up a single to Russell Branyan, putting runners on first and second with two outs.

So Taguchi delivered a base hit up the middle, loading the bases for Aaron Miles. The comeback fell short as Howry notched his eighth save of the season when he got Miles to ground out for the final out of the game.

"It got really exciting there in the ninth inning," Piniella said. "My mouth was getting nice and dry. (I'm glad) Howry got that last out on that ground ball to the shortstop."

"These are games that you get beat but you don't feel like you lose," La Russa said. "This is a game where I felt like we did a lot of good things. We ended up a run short."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 5 7 0
    ST LOUIS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 9 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CHN - CARLOS ZAMBRANO, RYAN DEMPSTER (9TH), BOBBY HOWRY (9TH) AND
    JASON KENDALL
    STL - ADAM WAINWRIGHT, RYAN FRANKLIN (8TH), JASON
    ISRINGHAUSEN (9TH) AND YADIER MOL

    Sep 14 10:37 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RYAN LUDWICK (13) TO CENTER WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF RYAN DEMPSTER.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 5, ST LOUIS 3
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: Y MOLINA (.275, 0-FOR-3)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 10:28 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JIM EDMONDS (12) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF RYAN DEMPSTER.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 5, ST LOUIS 2
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: S SCHUMAKER (.298, 0-FOR-3)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 10:25 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY DARYLE WARD SCORED FELIX PIE, JACQUE JONES AND
    JASON KENDALL.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, D WARD ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 5
    ST LOUIS 1 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: A SORIANO (.288, 0-FOR-3, BB)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 10:18 PM
  • 0
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 10:18 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 10:04 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY CLIFF FLOYD (8) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    7TH OFF ADAM WAINWRIGHT.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2, ST LOUIS 1
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M DEROSA (.290, 1-FOR-2, RBI)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 9:34 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ALBERT PUJOLS (31) TO CENTER WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 6TH OFF CARLOS ZAMBRANO.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1, ST LOUIS 1
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: J EDMONDS (.249, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 9:30 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MARK DEROSA SCORED ARAMIS RAMIREZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M DEROSA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: J JONES (.276, 0-FOR-1)

    Cubs vs. CardinalsSep 14 9:01 PM