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Zambrano's arm, bat all Cubs need in win over Astros

Jun 12, 2007 - 4:29 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- It was apparent after his last outing that Carlos Zambrano benefited from having a different catcher behind the plate. Apparently, it is helping him in the batter's box as well.

Zambrano homered and struck out eight over eight innings as the Chicago Cubs downed the Houston Astros, 2-1, on Monday.

Since his well-publicized scuffle with catcher Michael Barrett in the dugout and clubhouse on June 1, Zambrano (7-5) has worked with backup catcher Koyie Hill and it has produced dramatic results.

"Since I declared a new season in Milwaukee (June 6), I am 2-0 and I feel good," Zambrano said. "I am glad that I could help my team win this game. Big Z (Zambrano) is back on track."

After entering Wednesday's start with a 5.62 ERA, the fiery righthander has been lights out, striking out 17 over his last 14 2/3 innings and allowing three runs in the process to lower his ERA to 4.99.

"I looked up at the pitch speed display and saw 96s and 97s," Hill said. "I don't know what Carlos topped out at but he really threw the ball today. He knew where he was at all times today and threw strikes right through the strike zone. He made my job very easy."

With Chicago leading, 1-0, in the third, the pitcher gave himself all the cushion he would need. Zambrano put a charge into a high outside fastball from Houston starter Woody Williams (2-9) over the fence in left for a solo homer - the 12th of his career - that pushed him into sole possession of third place on the team's all-time list for home runs hit by a pitcher.

"I just got lucky on the home run," Zambrano said. "I was not looking to hit a home run there, he (Williams) just left the pitch up."

The 26-year-old ace surrendered just one run with a walk as he was able to string together consecutive quality starts for the first time this season. Closer Ryan Dempster worked around a walk in the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances.

"Carlos really threw the ball great," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He hit the ball pretty good, too. I think he is getting on a roll. In the ninth, I wanted to get Dempster back out there and let him get yesterday behind him. I think he rebounded very well."

Ryan Theriot had an RBI and Mike Fontenot had two hits for the Cubs, who have won two straight at Wrigley Field following a six-game skid at home.

Williams was the hard-luck loser, allowing a season-low four hits and tying season bests by lasting seven frames and yielding just two runs. He also walked two with five strikeouts.

"It seems like a lot of things are just out of my control this year," Williams said. "I don't feel like I have pitched that poorly but I sit here 2-9. Things have to change at some point."

Astros manager Phil Garner did not fault his hitters on a night they seemed overmatched by Zambrano.

"Zambrano was tough tonight," Garner said. "It's hard to get a pattern on him because he doesn't always throw the ball where he wants to. But you still have to swing the bat sometime."








  • ** CONFIRMED **
    NL
    HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 2 FINAL

    Jun 11 10:37 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Astros vs. CubsJun 11 10:08 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY MIKE FONTENOT ALLOWED MIKE LAMB TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B AUSMUS ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W WILLIAMS (.138, 0-FOR-1, SAC)

    Astros vs. CubsJun 11 9:56 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS ZAMBRANO (2) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 3RD OFF WOODY WILLIAMS.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0, CHICAGO CUBS 2
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: A SORIANO (.315, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. CubsJun 11 8:49 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY RYAN THERIOT SCORED MIKE FONTENOT.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R THERIOT ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    CHICAGO CUBS 1 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: K HILL (.083, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Astros vs. CubsJun 11 8:35 PM