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Zambrano nearly flawless as Cubs end three-game skid

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano shook off a cramp in his pitching arm, then shut down the Milwaukee Brewers.

Zambrano (1-0) pitched one-hit ball into the eighth inning and had two singles and an RBI to help the Chicago Cubs deal Milwaukee its first loss of the season, 4-0 Saturday.

Zambrano gave up only a two-out line single in the second inning to Russell Branyan, and shut down a Brewers lineup that scored 25 runs in the first three games. He struck out six and walked two while outpitching fellow opening-day starter Ben Sheets (1-1).

But after throwing just one pitch to the second hitter of the game, Junior Spivey, Zambrano stepped off the mound, pointed to his pitching arm and signaled for Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal.

Zambrano was allowed three additional warm-up tosses. He then struck out Spivey on the next three pitches and cruised until being relieved by Chad Fox with one out in the eighth.

"It happens to me all the time," Zambrano said, referring to the cramp. "I have to drink more water. It has nothing to do with my elbow or shoulder."

Cubs manager Dusty Baker, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak, said the same thing happened to Zambrano in a game last season.

"I'm just glad it was muscle and nothing else," Baker said. "He was throwing great from the beginning. He hit well, he ran well, he did everything well today.

"He wanted the victory and knew we needed it. His fastball was moving."

Jeromy Burnitz hit a solo homer in the sixth and Todd Walker added a two-run double in the seventh for the Cubs. That gave Zambrano, who had singled in the game's first run in the second, some room to work.

After giving up Branyan's single, Zambrano retired 10 in a row before walking J.J. Hardy to start the sixth. Through the first seven innings, he retired the Brewers in order five times.

"I hit a fastball down in the zone," Branyan said. "He threw the heck out of the ball. We had some good contact, but he was tough."

The Brewers were the last remaining undefeated team in the major leagues.

"(Zambrano) was throwing that heavy slider 96-97 miles an hour with an occasional breaking ball and even a couple of good changeups," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He was dead on. (Today) shows you why he's one of the best pitchers in the National League."

Zambrano was removed for Fox after walking Chad Moeller with one out in the eighth. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect ninth.

Zambrano started the Cubs' opener at Arizona last Monday. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings and did not get a decision in Chicago's 16-6 win.

"(Monday) I tried to be too perfect," Zambrano said. "Today I had good command of all my pitches and got ahead in the count. That was the difference."

Sheets (1-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings.

Zambrano's two-out RBI single in the second scored Burnitz and gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Burnitz lofted his first homer with the Cubs into the right-center field bleachers with one out in the sixth to make it 2-0.

Walker doubled off the base of the right-center field wall with one out in the seventh to drive in Zambrano and Corey Patterson.

Notes

  • Zambrano threw 111 pitches, 64 for strikes.
  • The Cubs will decide on Sunday whether RHP Mark Prior starts at home against San Diego or in the minors on Tuesday.
  • In his opening day start at Pittsburgh last Monday, Sheets allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Following his trip around the bases, winning pitcher Carlos Zambrano high fives Corey Patterson.  (AP)
Following his trip around the bases, winning pitcher Carlos Zambrano high fives Corey Patterson. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

T. Walker
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
Chicago

C. Zambrano
IP 7.1
H 1
ER 0
BB 2
K 6
 

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Milwaukee Brewers
Brady Clark, CF4000021 .143
Junior Spivey, 2B4000011 .350
Lyle Overbay, 1B3000000 .267
Carlos Lee, LF3000010 .278
Geoff Jenkins, RF3000000 .167
Russell Branyan, 3B3010000 .364
Chad Moeller, C2000121 .167
J.J. Hardy, SS2000101 .214
Ben Sheets, P2000001 .000
    Derrick Turnbow, P0000000 .000
   a- Jeff Cirillo, PH1000000 .400
Totals27010265 
a-grounded out for Turnbow in the 9th
Milwaukee Brewers
Ben Sheets (L,1-1) 7844251 3.86
Derrick Turnbow 1000000 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Ben Sheets 105-70, Derrick Turnbow 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ben Sheets 5-11, Derrick Turnbow 2-1
Batters Faced - Ben Sheets 31, Derrick Turnbow 3
Chicago Cubs
Corey Patterson, CF4120012 .333
Todd Walker, 2B4012000 .471
Nomar Garciaparra, SS4000012 .174
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010012 .263
Jeromy Burnitz, RF3211101 .318
Derrek Lee, 1B4000001 .300
Todd Hollandsworth, LF3010110 .294
Henry Blanco, C3000001 .000
Carlos Zambrano, P3121011 .500
    Chad Fox, P0000000 .000
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
Totals324842510 
Batting
2B - Todd Walker (2, Sheets)
HR - Jeromy Burnitz (1, Sheets)
RBI - Todd Walker 2 (3), Jeromy Burnitz (2), Carlos Zambrano (1)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Zambrano (1)
SB - Jeromy Burnitz (1, 2nd base off Sheets/Moeller)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Garciaparra-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,1-0) 7.1100260 2.25
Chad Fox 0.2000000 0.00
LaTroy Hawkins 1000000 6.00
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 111-64, Chad Fox 6-3, LaTroy Hawkins 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 5-11, Chad Fox 1-0, LaTroy Hawkins 1-2
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 25, Chad Fox 1, LaTroy Hawkins 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38743
Game Time - 2:08
Temperature - 48
Umpires - Home - Rick Reed, First Base - Terry Craft, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Alfonso Marquez