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Chicago at Cincinnati

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Chi. Cubs (55-48) «2000002026130
Cincinnati (45-61)000000000030

Zambrano first to 14 wins as Cubs close to half-game of Brewers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Carlos Zambrano says his latest run is the best one of his career. He's having a pretty good time at the plate, too.

Zambrano became the majors' first 14-game winner and finished with three hits to help the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-0 Sunday.

"I think this is the best stretch I've ever had," said Zambrano, who has won four straight and seven of his last eight. "I feel confident and comfortable. I've been hitting my spots and throwing more strikes. My arm slot feels good."

Derrek Lee homered for the third time in four days for Chicago, which finished off a 4-2 road trip and moved within a half-game of NL Central-leading Milwaukee -- the Cubs' smallest deficit since opening day. Alfonso Soriano also had two hits and scored a run.

Brandon Phillips' first-inning single up the middle and Javier Valentin's seventh-inning bloop single to center were the only hits allowed by Zambrano in 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked three.

"He's a special pitcher," Cincinnati manager Pete Mackanin said. "Everything was working for him today. You can see why he's got the record he's got. He's a solid pitcher, and what he'd have? Three hits? He wanted to steal a base, but we held him down there."

Will Ohman got the last two outs of the eighth and Bob Howry pitched the ninth to finish off the three-hitter.

Zambrano (14-7) tied a career high with three hits and stayed in after Ryan Freel lined a pitch off his right ankle in the sixth. The ball caromed to third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who threw Freel out.

"What can I say?" Freel said. "That's baseball. He had a good cutter today. He kept us off balance. He could throw any pitch at any time."

Zambrano left the game with cramps in his right calf after striking out pinch-hitter Norris Hopper leading off the eighth inning.

"Any time I can do anything -- hitting, running the bases, kicking the ball -- I've got to use my God-given ability," Zambrano said.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella wasn't that enthralled with his hitting.

"The story of the game was his pitching, not his hitting," Piniella said. "Forget his hitting."

Lee's two-run homer off Matt Belisle in the seventh inning gave Chicago a 4-0 lead. The homer was his second in less than 24 hours and 11th of the season, and it drove Belisle from the game.

Belisle (5-8) hasn't won in 10 starts over two months since beating the Astros at Houston on May 29. He gave up four runs and nine hits, struck out four and walked one.

"It was definitely better," Belisle said. "I threw a lot more quality off-speed pitches in fastball counts, but I gave up a bad mistake to the wrong guy."

The Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Ryan Theriot singled and Lee was hit by a pitch with one out. Theriot scored and Lee went to third on Ramirez's double to right-center field. Mark DeRosa drove in Lee with a sacrifice fly.

Notes

  • Zambrano also had three hits on July 20, 2003, at Florida. He has four hits in his last six at-bats.
  • Reds 3B Edwin Encarnacion batted eighth for the first time in 82 starts this season.
  • The game was Cincinnati's 18th in 18 days since the All-Star break, the team's longest stretch of consecutive games this season.
  • Cincinnati LF Adam Dunn is 0-for-12 since his 12-game hitting streak was snapped on Friday.
  • Reds SS Jeff Keppinger's hitting streak was snapped at a career-high eight games.
  • The Reds have scored one run in their last 18 innings.
 
Copyright 2015 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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The Big Z enjoys a great afternoon, shutting down the Reds while collecting three hits at the plate.  (AP)
The Big Z enjoys a great afternoon, shutting down the Reds while collecting three hits at the plate. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

C. Zambrano
IP 7.1
H 2
ER 0
BB 3
K 6
Chicago

D. Lee
AB 4
R 2
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5120012 .298
Ryan Theriot, SS5220004 .279
Derrek Lee, 1B4212011 .331
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4121100 .321
Mark DeRosa, RF3021100 .291
Mike Fontenot, 2B5000027 .309
Angel Pagan, CF4012102 .284
Koyie Hill, C5000043 .163
Carlos Zambrano, P4030001 .291
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
Totals39613638  
Batting
2B - Alfonso Soriano (30, Belisle), Aramis Ramirez (21, Belisle)
HR - Derrek Lee (11, Belisle)
SF - Mark DeRosa (4)
RBI - Derrek Lee 2 (55), Aramis Ramirez (66), Mark DeRosa (52), Angel Pagan 2 (21)
2-OUT RBI - Angel Pagan 2 (8)
SB - Alfonso Soriano 2 (15, 2nd base off Belisle/Valentin, 2nd base off Belisle/Valentin), Ryan Theriot (18, 2nd base off Burton/Valentin)
Team LOB - 11
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,14-7) 7.1200360 3.47
Will Ohman 0.2100000 3.90
Bob Howry 1000000 4.26
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 113-76, Will Ohman 13-7, Bob Howry 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 7-9, Will Ohman 1-1, Bob Howry 1-2
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 27, Will Ohman 3, Bob Howry 3
Cincinnati Reds
Scott Hatteberg, 1B2000210 .310
Ryan Freel, CF4010001 .245
Ken Griffey Jr., RF3000113 .272
Brandon Phillips, 2B4010001 .277
Adam Dunn, LF4000002 .260
Jeff Keppinger, SS4000000 .315
Javier Valentin, C3010000 .254
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B3000011 .256
Matt Belisle, P2000020 .097
    Victor Santos, P0000000 .000
   a- Norris Hopper, PH1000010 .276
    Jared Burton, P0000000 .000
Totals3003036  
a-struck out for Santos in the 8th
Fielding
PB - Javier Valentin (4)
Cincinnati Reds
Matt Belisle (L,5-8) 6.1944141 5.30
Victor Santos 1.2200020 4.61
Jared Burton 1222220 4.32
HBP - Lee (by Matt Belisle)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Belisle 98-64, Victor Santos 27-19, Jared Burton 26-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Belisle 7-8, Victor Santos 3-0
Batters Faced - Matt Belisle 30, Victor Santos 7, Jared Burton 7
Game Information
Attendance - 33061
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Ed Rapuano, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Joe West