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Zambrano outduels Carpenter; Cubs complete four-game sweep

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano's pledge to himself and his teammates is a simple one. Pitch and play like you've still got a chance.

It would take one of the great miracles in baseball history to get the Chicago Cubs to the postseason. But they have played better ball in the last week and on Sunday completed a rare four-game sweep of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals behind Zambrano.

"I am one of the guys that thinks you never have to give up," Zambrano said after outpitching Chris Carpenter to win his ninth straight decision as the Cubs beat the Cards 6-3.

"When you have that 'X' that says you're eliminated, then you give up. Not anybody in the league, not Kansas City, not Pittsburgh, has that 'X' that says they are eliminated," Zambrano said.

"We're still fighting for something. We still have a chance to do a lot of things."

The Cubs (43-61) own their first four-game winning streak since capturing five straight last July.

And Chicago's first four-game sweep of the Cardinals at Wrigley Field since 1972 left the Cardinals 0-7 this season at the Cubs' home park. The Cubs also swept a three-game home series from the Cards in early April.

"That's the million dollar question. Why can't we do this all year long?" said second baseman Todd Walker, whose name has been tossed around in trade rumors.

"If this was the last game for any of us, at least we went out on a good note," he said.

Zambrano (12-3), who has not lost since May 31, allowed five hits, five walks and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings, facing a Cardinals lineup that didn't start Albert Pujols. He was a late scratch with a hyperextended right elbow, but entered the game as pinch-hitter in the seventh.

Carpenter (10-5) lasted just four innings -- his shortest start of the season -- and gave up all five of his runs in the first two innings on a muggy day. He yielded a leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno in the second and six hits.

"I felt fine, I just didn't pitch real well," Carpenter said. "I made a lot of bad pitches and left the ball in the middle of the plate."

He said it's obvious that despite their overall 58-46 record, the Cardinals have not played well against the Cubs this season.

"You look at the games we played. We haven't pitched well, we made some defensive mistakes and haven't gotten any big hits," he said.

Trailing 5-0, St. Louis broke through in the fifth when it loaded the bases for a second time in the game as Aaron Miles opened with the Cardinals' second hit and pitcher Jason Marquis hit a pinch-hit double. Zambrano walked Chris Duncan to load the bases and the Cardinals scored on Scott Rolen's fielder's choice grounder to third. Zambrano then fanned Jim Edmonds and pumped his fist.

In the sixth, Zambrano gave up a single to Scott Spiezio, threw one wild pitch and then another on ball four to John Rodriguez before Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly.

Miles followed with an infield single to short and Rodriguez sprained his right ankle sliding into second, even though the throw went to first base and not second. He was helped off the field and is day-to-day. Pinch-hitter Juan Encarnacion then grounded into a double play.

Chicago made it 6-2 in the seventh on pinch-hitter John Mabry's RBI single off Adam Wainwright.

Juan Pierre walked leading off the Cubs' first, went to third on Aramis Ramirez's one-out single and scored on Phil Nevin's sacrifice fly. Jacque Jones then delivered an opposite-field, two-out double for a 2-0 lead.

Cedeno, in a 19-for-122 slump (.156) since June 15, hit his third homer of the season to start the second. Henry Blanco and Zambrano followed with singles and moved up on Pierre's sacrifice.

When Todd Walker hit a grounder to short, David Eckstein threw home and catcher Molina's tag appeared to get Blanco at the plate, but umpire Marvin Hudson ruled him safe, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead and bringing Tony La Russa out for an argument. Ramirez then delivered an RBI single to right.

Carpenter had won four straight decisions entering the game.

The Cardinals made it 6-3 in the ninth on an RBI single by Rolen after Duncan's triple.

Notes

  • Zambrano finished 6-0 in July and became the first Cubs pitcher to win six games in a month since Rick Reuschel won seven in August of 1979.
  • The Cubs' four-game winning streak is their longest this season.
  • It was Carpenter's first loss in seven career starts at Wrigley Field. He had been 4-0 at the Cubs' home park and 6-1 overall against them.
  • The series attendance was 162,101, a four-game series record at Wrigley Field.
 
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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Carlos Zambrano is pumped! He strikes out five and allows two runs in six innings for the win.  (AP)
Carlos Zambrano is pumped! He strikes out five and allows two runs in six innings for the win. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
St. Louis

S. Rolen
AB 5
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS5010002 .297
Chris Duncan, RF-LF4120101 .306
Scott Rolen, 3B5012012 .317
Jim Edmonds, CF2000123 .259
   a- Albert Pujols, PH-1B1000101 .322
Scott Spiezio, 1B4110012 .271
    Adam Wainwright, P0000000 .500
    Hector Luna, 2B0000000 .291
John Rodriguez, LF2000101 .301
    Anthony Reyes, PR0000000 .077
    Josh Hancock, P0000000 .000
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
    So Taguchi, CF1000010 .278
Yadier Molina, C2001110 .215
Aaron Miles, 2B3120100 .262
    Braden Looper, P0000000 .500
Chris Carpenter, P1000013 .073
   b- Jason Marquis, PH1010000 .193
    Josh Kinney, P0000000 .000
   c- Juan Encarnacion, PH-RF2000001 .289
Totals333836716 
a-walked for Edmonds in the 7th
b-doubled for Carpenter in the 5th
c-grounded into a double play for Kinney in the 6th
Batting
2B - Jason Marquis (4, Zambrano)
3B - Chris Duncan (2, Dempster)
SF - Yadier Molina (2)
RBI - Scott Rolen 2 (66), Yadier Molina (35)
2-OUT RBI - Scott Rolen (21)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Eckstein-Miles-Spiezio, Luna-Eckstein-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter (L,10-5) 4655221 2.93
Josh Kinney 1000010 4.97
Josh Hancock 0.1100100 3.44
Randy Flores 0.2000000 4.85
Adam Wainwright 1311020 2.67
Braden Looper 1100000 3.61
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 78-48, Josh Kinney 12-8, Josh Hancock 16-7, Randy Flores 5-4, Adam Wainwright 30-16, Braden Looper 6-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 5-5, Josh Kinney 1-1, Josh Hancock 1-0, Braden Looper 1-1
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 20, Josh Kinney 3, Josh Hancock 3, Randy Flores 2, Adam Wainwright 6, Braden Looper 3
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF3100104 .281
Todd Walker, 2B4111012 .277
    Neifi Perez, 2B0000000 .256
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4131000 .276
Phil Nevin, 1B3001013 .225
    Bob Howry, P00000001.000
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
Jacque Jones, RF4011032 .288
Matt Murton, LF2000101 .282
    Roberto Novoa, P0000000 .250
    Will Ohman, P00000001.000
   a- John Mabry, PH-1B1011000 .222
Ronny Cedeno, SS4121002 .252
Henry Blanco, C2110100 .255
Carlos Zambrano, P1110000 .191
   b- Angel Pagan, PH-LF2010002 .269
Totals3061163516 
a-singled for Ohman in the 7th
b-flied out for Zambrano in the 6th
Batting
2B - Jacque Jones (24, Carpenter)
HR - Ronny Cedeno (3, Carpenter)
SF - Phil Nevin (1)
SH - Juan Pierre (9), Henry Blanco (1), Carlos Zambrano (4)
RBI - Todd Walker (40), Aramis Ramirez (68), Phil Nevin (54), Jacque Jones (50), John Mabry (12), Ronny Cedeno (25)
2-OUT RBI - Jacque Jones (20), John Mabry (7)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Cedeno-Walker-Nevin
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,12-3) 6522550 3.26
Roberto Novoa (H,4) 0.2100000 5.18
Will Ohman (H,5) 0.1000110 3.92
Bob Howry 1000010 3.35
Ryan Dempster 1211000 4.38
WP - Carlos Zambrano 2 (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 110-61, Roberto Novoa 13-8, Will Ohman 8-3, Bob Howry 12-7, Ryan Dempster 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 7-5, Ryan Dempster 2-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 27, Roberto Novoa 3, Will Ohman 2, Bob Howry 3, Ryan Dempster 5
Game Information
Attendance - 40033
Game Time - 3:06
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Ed Montague, Third Base - Mark Wegner