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Zambrano picks up win No. 15 as Cubs hammer Reds 11-3

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano is hoping his arm and bat can help the Chicago Cubs achieve a modest goal -- avoiding 100 losses.

Zambrano hit his fifth home run of the season and pitched seven shutout innings in his return to the rotation, leading the Cubs over the Cincinnati Reds 11-3 Sunday.

Jacque Jones, Ronny Cedeno and Zambrano all homered in the Cubs' seven-run first inning. Ryan Theriot added two home runs as the Cubs sent the Reds to their fourth loss in five games.

Zambrano (15-6), who missed his last two scheduled starts with stiffness in his lower back, earned his first win since Aug. 24. He gave up four hits, struck out six and walked four.

"I was feeling good today," Zambrano said. "I've told you before, I never give up and I know I can get to 16 or 17 wins."

The Cubs have the worst record in the NL at 61-89, and Zambrano had said he wanted to pitch again to help his team avoid the triple-digit mark in losses. He'll likely get two more starts, with the Cubs needing to win twice in their final 12 games to stay away from No. 100.

The right-hander left a game on Sept. 4 in the second inning complaining of back troubles. The Cubs have actually been trying to get Zambrano to cut down on his swing, thinking that might be further hurting his back.

Zambrano's five homers are the most by a pitcher since Mike Hampton hit seven for the Colorado Rockies in 2001.

"I was a little lucky today," he said. "I didn't try to make a hard swing and just tried to contact the ball. I didn't really make a strong swing like before because I didn't want to hurt my back."

Jones hit a three-run homer, his 26th, and Cedeno hit a two-run drive off Eric Milton (8-8), who left the game after recording just one out. It was the shortest outing of Milton's career.

Milton gave up six runs on six hits and threw just 22 pitches. He left his last start with shoulder soreness and got a cortisone shot in his left elbow after his last start on Sept. 12.

Milton said he's probably done for the year.

"Obviously, I wasn't right," Milton said. "I probably shouldn't have been out there today."

The Reds began the day on the fringe of the wild-card race. With Milton struggling, they were out of this game right away.

"You could tell real early that he wasn't anywhere close to his game," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I even talked to him before the game and he said he was ready."

Aramis Ramirez started the scoring with an RBI single and Zambrano capped it with a solo shot off Milton's replacement, Sun-Woo Kim.

"You saw everybody chipping in and producing in that first inning, and it was very refreshing to see that," Theriot said. "And those early hits and runs set the tone for the game."

The Cubs started the game under a cloud after star Derrek Lee said he was taking a leave of absence from the club to care for his 3-year-old daughter Jada, who is suffering from an undisclosed illness that has affected her eyesight. Lee talked to the team privately before the game.

"It looked like the guys were inspired," manager Dusty Baker said. "Derrek spoke to the team before the game and he told the guys to go out and play ball, play hard and do what you've got to do."

The first four Reds pitchers gave up at least one home run.

Matt Murton homered in the second off Kim. Theriot hit his second career homer, a solo shot, in the fourth off Jason Johnson and added a solo shot in the sixth off Jason Standridge.

Theriot had never hit more than one home run in a season, hitting five total in parts of six minor league seasons. He doesn't think he's ever had a multihomer game.

"You're not out there trying to get in the air, you're just trying to hit it hard," Theriot said.

The Reds scored three runs in the ninth off Ryan Dempster. Todd Hollandsworth had an RBI double to end the shutout.

Notes

  • Zambrano's five home runs this season are one shy of the Cubs' single-season record for pitcher, set by Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins in 1971.
  • Milton's previous shortest outing came when he got two outs on Sept. 18, 2005, against Pittsburgh.
  • The Cubs hit six home runs in a game for the first time since Aug. 20, 2004, at Houston.
 
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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Chicago pitcher Carlos Zambrano allows four hits through seven innings -- and hits a homer.  (AP)
Chicago pitcher Carlos Zambrano allows four hits through seven innings -- and hits a homer. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

C. Zambrano
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 4
K 6
Chicago

R. Theriot
AB 5
R 3
H 3
HR 2
RBI 2
 

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Cincinnati Reds
Dewayne Wise, CF5000012 .174
Scott Hatteberg, 1B3000100 .293
Rich Aurilia, SS2010111 .303
    Juan Castro, SS1000000 .243
Adam Dunn, LF2000102 .236
    Chris Denorfia, LF1110000 .226
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4010033 .289
Javier Valentin, C4120001 .274
Todd Hollandsworth, RF3111111 .238
Ray Olmedo, 2B4001003 .200
Eric Milton, P0000000 .224
    Sun-Woo Kim, P0000000 .500
   a- Brendan Harris, PH1000000 .222
    Jason Johnson, P0000000 .000
   b- Royce Clayton, PH1010000 .259
    Jason Standridge, P0000000 .000
   c- David Ross, PH1000012 .262
    Matt Belisle, P0000000 .000
    Gary Majewski, P0000000 .000
   d- Norris Hopper, PH1011000 .333
Totals333834715 
a-popped out for Kim in the 3rd
b-doubled for J. Johnson in the 5th
c-struck out for Standridge in the 7th
d-singled for Majewski in the 9th
Batting
2B - Javier Valentin (6, Zambrano), Todd Hollandsworth (16, Dempster), Royce Clayton (29, Zambrano)
RBI - Todd Hollandsworth (34), Ray Olmedo (3), Norris Hopper (3)
2-OUT RBI - Norris Hopper (2)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Castro-Olmedo-Hatteberg
Cincinnati Reds
Eric Milton (L,8-8) 0.1666012 5.19
Sun-Woo Kim 1.2322012 12.51
Jason Johnson 2322001 6.28
Jason Standridge 2311021 4.00
Matt Belisle 1100000 4.45
Gary Majewski 1100100 4.61
HBP - Soto (by Jason Johnson)
Pitches-Strikes - Eric Milton 22-18, Sun-Woo Kim 29-18, Jason Johnson 31-21, Jason Standridge 36-21, Matt Belisle 8-6, Gary Majewski 19-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sun-Woo Kim 3-1, Jason Johnson 4-2, Jason Standridge 4-0, Matt Belisle 2-0, Gary Majewski 3-0
Batters Faced - Eric Milton 7, Sun-Woo Kim 8, Jason Johnson 10, Jason Standridge 9, Matt Belisle 3, Gary Majewski 5
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF5120001 .291
    Roberto Novoa, P0000000 .200
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
Ryan Theriot, 2B5332001 .316
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4121000 .289
    Scott Moore, 3B1000000 .214
Matt Murton, LF4111123 .295
Jacque Jones, RF4223021 .285
    Angel Pagan, RF1010000 .268
Henry Blanco, 1B5131002 .271
Ronny Cedeno, SS4112003 .248
Geovany Soto, C3010000 .250
Carlos Zambrano, P3111001 .152
   a- Buck Coats, PH-CF1000001 .100
Totals401117111413 
a-grounded into a double play for Zambrano in the 7th
Batting
2B - Henry Blanco (13, Milton)
3B - Jacque Jones (1, J. Johnson)
HR - Ryan Theriot 2 (3, J. Johnson, Standridge), Matt Murton (12, Kim), Jacque Jones (26, Milton), Ronny Cedeno (6, Milton), Carlos Zambrano (5, Kim)
RBI - Ryan Theriot 2 (13), Aramis Ramirez (103), Matt Murton (58), Jacque Jones 3 (76), Henry Blanco (28), Ronny Cedeno 2 (37), Carlos Zambrano (10)
2-OUT RBI - Henry Blanco (14), Carlos Zambrano (8)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Blanco-Cedeno-Zambrano, Theriot-Ramirez-Blanco
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,15-6) 7400460 3.38
Roberto Novoa 1000000 4.27
Ryan Dempster 1433010 4.91
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 109-67, Roberto Novoa 8-5, Ryan Dempster 24-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 8-5, Roberto Novoa 1-2, Ryan Dempster 2-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 27, Roberto Novoa 3, Ryan Dempster 7
Game Information
Attendance - 39164
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - C.B. Bucknor, First Base - Chad Fairchild, Second Base - Wally Bell, Third Base - Mark Carlson