Cubs
Astros
5 - 0 Final
  for this game

Zambrano tosses no-hitter as Cubs down Astros

Sep 15, 2008 - 4:49 AM By J.R. Radcliffe PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- It was supposed to be a home game for the displaced Houston Astros. It wound up being historic for the Chicago Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano threw the first Cubs' no-hitter in over 36 years, dispatching of the red-hot Astros at neutral Miller Park in a 5-0 victory Sunday.

It was the second no-hitter of the season and first since Jon Lester threw one May 19 for the Boston Red Sox. Zambrano struck out 10 batters and tossed the first Cubs' no-hitter since Milt Pappas shut out the Padres on September 2, 1972 and handed the Astros just their second loss in their last 16 games.

Zambrano's date with history was also one of a kind as it is the first recorded no-hitter in major league history to take place at a neutral site.

The game was moved from Minute Maid Park when Hurricane Ike rampaged through the Houston area, leading to a veritable home game for the visitors as they needed to travel 100 miles while the quasi-hosts were required to log over 1,000 miles to get to Miller Park.

"It feels like we're at Wrigley," Zambrano said. "Here in Milwaukee, we knew the crowd would be on our side. In the same way, we feel bad for the Astros because of the hurricane and everything happened in Houston. We have to continue to play baseball."

Zambrano was so taken with the partisan crowd that it had him wishing for the unthinkable.

"It's fun to come to Miller Park," Zambrano said. "I like the mound and it's a beautiful ballpark. I wish we could have a new ballpark. To have a clubhouse like that, that's impressive."

Despite only a 24-hour notice by Major League Baseball, the attendance climbed to 23,441 with the crowd decidedly cheering for Chicago, especially as Zambrano continued his run to history.

"I was thinking about it the whole game," Zambrano said. "I was watching the scoreboard as the innings ended. In the ninth inning, when I came out and the crowd was all crazy, that helped me out a little bit. Thank (goodness) it was the (Nos.) 8-9 and leadoff hitter coming up."

The Astros, meanwhile, continued to suffer through a rough stretch of days. Unhappy about the relocation to the Cub-happy environment, the Astros saw their six-game winning streak snapped in the midst of a serious hunt for the National League wild-card berth.

"This is not a home game," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "This is definitely an advantage to the Cubs, and that's saying it as mildly as possible.

"It's hard to put into words. You think first about your safety and your family's safety, and the other people's safety. Now you have to worry about where and when do you play and all that. It's just been a long four days."

Zambrano (14-5) made his first start since September 2, skipping a turn after incurring inflammation in his rotator cuff. With a wry smile, Cubs manager Lou Piniella suggested that his ace was "back."

"He had everything going," Piniella said. "From the first two pitches of the ballgame, you knew his arm was live and the ball was coming out really easy. It had good movement on it. He located for the most part the whole ballgame, and then he used the split-finger (fastball) to keep people honest.

"(Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild) has told me the last few times he's thrown, he's gotten sharper and sharper in his bullpen sessions. Quite honestly, Larry was expecting a good game from him."

He appeared to be in top form for most of this contest, allowing just two baserunners - walking Michael Bourn in the fourth hitting Hunter Pence with a pitch in the fifth, facing just one more than the minimum.

One batter after Bourn reached, Zambrano escaped any further damage when Miguel Tejada grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The Cubs gave Zambrano plenty of early support as Alfonso Soriano homered to start the game - his fifth leadoff blast of the season and 49th of his career - to spot the Cubs an immediate 1-0 lead.

Chicago put together a four-run rally in the third, with two-out hits providing all of the damage. Derrek Lee hit a two-run double against Astros starter Randy Wolf (10-12), Aramis Ramirez lined a run-scoring single and Geovany Soto clubbed an RBI double.

That was plenty for Zambrano, who also went 1-for-3 at the plate in the contest.

Zambrano opened the ninth with 99 pitches thrown, nine over the limit that Piniella had set before the game for his recovering ace. But he wasn't about to make the call to pull his pitcher.

"I told (Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell), if he's got to come out of the game, you go get him, I'm not," Piniella joked.

Humberto Quintero grounded out to short on the first pitch to open the inning before pinch hitter Jose Castillo followed suit with a bouncer to shortstop Ryan Theriot and, with the crowd on its feet, Darin Erstad struck out swinging on a pitch well outside the strike zone to complete Zambrano's 110-pitch gem.

"I was warming up and I still had some gas in my tank," Zambrano said. "I could challenge some people, and that's what I did with Quintero. I think I was throwing 95 (miles per hour) still in the ninth, and that was the key. When you can challenge guys and still throw 95-plus, that's the key to the performance."

The animated Zambrano fell to a knee and pointed skyward after he fanned Erstad and before he embraced a mob by teammates at the pitcher's mound.

"I'm a little confused right now," Zambrano said. "I still can't believe it; it's a great feeling I can't describe. Throwing a no-hitter is one of the few things in baseball you most enjoy."






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

    BATTERIES: CHN - CARLOS ZAMBRANO AND GEOVANY SOTO
    HOU - RANDY WOLF, FERNANDO NIEVE (3RD), DAVE BORKOWSKI
    (6TH), JACK CASSEL (7TH) AND HUMBERTO QUINTERO

    HOME RUNS: CHN - ALFON

    Sep 14 10:24 PM
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    Cubs 5, Astros 0  Bot 8, 0 OutsSep 14 10:14 PM
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    Cubs 5, Astros 0  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 14 9:17 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY GEOVANY SOTO SCORED ARAMIS RAMIREZ.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, G SOTO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 5
    HOUSTON 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M DEROSA (.284, 0-FOR-1)

    Cubs 5, Astros 0  Top 3, 0 OutsSep 14 8:48 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ARAMIS RAMIREZ SCORED DERREK LEE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, A RAMIREZ ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 4
    HOUSTON 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: G SOTO (.288, 0-FOR-1)

    Cubs 4, Astros 0  Top 3, 0 OutsSep 14 8:47 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY DERREK LEE SCORED RONNY CEDENO AND CARLOS
    ZAMBRANO.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, D LEE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 3
    HOUSTON 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: A RAMIREZ (.279, 0-FOR-1)

    Cubs 3, Astros 0  Top 3, 0 OutsSep 14 8:43 PM


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

    CURRENT PITCHERS: CHN - CARLOS ZAMBRANO
    HOU - RANDY WOLF

    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: D ERSTAD (.285, 3 HR, 30 RBI)
    M BOURN (.222, 5 HR, 25 RBI)
    M TEJADA (.287, 13 HR, 63 RBI)

    Cubs 1, Astros 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 14 8:15 PM