Chicago at Cincinnati

Chi. Cubs (19-14) «100200000392
Cincinnati (13-21)000000000040

Zambrano shuts down slumping Reds' lineup for surging Cubs wire reports

CINCINNATI -- In the first five weeks, Carlos Zambrano has been the Chicago Cubs' constant.

Zambrano had his way with Cincinnati's slumping lineup, allowing only three hits in eight innings, and Ronny Cedeno singled home a pair of runs that sent the Cubs to a 3-0 victory on Tuesday night.

The Cubs won for only fourth time in 12 games, a span marked by inconsistency all-around. Zambrano (5-1) has been the guy they could depend upon.

"He's been great," said Kerry Wood, who pitched the ninth and finished off a four-hitter. "That's what aces do. They come in when you desperately need one, and we desperately needed one today."

The right-hander has won four straight decisions, two of them against a Reds lineup that is often its own worst enemy. Cincinnati got only one runner to second base in the first five innings -- Joey Votto, who was picked off by Zambrano.

"Every team passes through some slumps," Zambrano said. "That's normal. We're doing the right things, but we've kind of slowed down. We need to put everything together."

Zambrano gave up three singles and three walks, struck out three and lowered his earned run average to 1.80. Wood, pitching on the 10-year anniversary of his 20-strikeout game, gave up a bunt single and struck out two in the ninth, getting his fifth save in eight chances.

The most encouraging sign for the Cubs: They won a game without much from their offense. Chicago has the majors' most prolific offense, but has too often been an all-or-nothing attack.

The Cubs are 16-1 when they score four or more runs, only 3-13 when they get less.

"We won with three runs," manager Lou Piniella said, breaking into a smile. "Let's see if we can do that a little more often."

For the Reds, just scoring a run is a huge task these days. They were shut out for the third time this season, half their total last year. They've lost six of their last seven overall, struggling no matter who's in the lineup or who's on the mound.

"I know you guys are just as dumbfounded as I am right now," said Aaron Harang (1-5). "This team is a lot better than the way we've been playing."

No one has suffered from the Reds' weak offense more than Harang. The right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, leaving his earned run average at 3.33.

In half of Harang's eight starts, the Reds have scored two runs or less.

"It's tough for Aaron," manager Dusty Baker said. "You know he's going to get on a roll, but that doesn't help now."

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was back in the Cubs' lineup after missing three games with a sore left wrist, which was hit by a pitch on Friday. He had a run-scoring single in the first inning, a ball hit sharply up the middle that made it 1-0.

A pair of walks and a sacrifice left Cubs at second and third with two outs in the fourth inning -- Cedeno's best situation. He slapped a down-and-away breaking ball into right field for a 3-0 lead.

"I gave up those two walks, and the guy flips a little base hit where nobody is," Harang said. "If anybody's got a horseshoe, please give it to us. I had him set up to do that, and he just hits it where we're not."

The utility infielder has been one of Chicago's best clutch hitters. Fourteen of his 18 RBI have come with two outs, the most on the team.

Before the game, Piniella singled out the team's defense as a main area for improvement. Two errors gave Cincinnati five unearned runs in the series opener, a 5-3 win on Monday night.

The Cubs had two more errors on Tuesday, but Zambrano didn't let them hurt him. Nothing could get him off his game. He induced Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a double play in the sixth, scuttling a rally set up by one of the errors.

Ken Griffey Jr. had a pair of singles off Zambrano, but remained at 597 career homers. Griffey plans to attend a memorial for one of his boyhood friends in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, the team's day off.


  • Cubs C Geovany Soto extended his hitting streak to eight games.
  • The Reds released LHP Scott Sauerbeck, who was pitching for Triple-A Louisville. The reliever was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four appearances.
  • Encarnacion went 0-for-4 snapping a streak of 25 straight games in which he had reached base safely. He did reach on an error by 1B Derrek Lee in the fourth, but that doesn't count toward the streak.
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Carlos Zambrano dominates on the mound, allowing just three hits and zero runs through eight innings.  (AP)
Carlos Zambrano dominates on the mound, allowing just three hits and zero runs through eight innings. (AP)

Players of the Game

C. Zambrano
IP 8.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 3
K 3

R. Cedeno
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0

Related Video

Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5020011 .190
Ryan Theriot, SS5120002 .325
Derrek Lee, 1B3100114 .326
Aramis Ramirez, 3B3111102 .278
Kosuke Fukudome, RF3000011 .322
Geovany Soto, C4010012 .349
Ronny Cedeno, 2B4012011 .373
Felix Pie, CF4010011 .232
Carlos Zambrano, P3010011 .261
   a- Reed Johnson, PH1000000 .271
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
a-flied out for Zambrano in the 9th
2B - Alfonso Soriano (3, Affeldt)
SH - Kosuke Fukudome (1)
RBI - Aramis Ramirez (23), Ronny Cedeno 2 (18)
2-OUT RBI - Aramis Ramirez (10), Ronny Cedeno 2 (14)
SB - Ryan Theriot (8, 2nd base off Harang/Bako)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Soto-Cedeno, Theriot-Cedeno-Lee
E - Ronny Cedeno (3, Misplayed grounder), Derrek Lee (5, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,5-1) 8300330 1.80
Kerry Wood (S,5) 1100020 4.24
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 112-68, Kerry Wood 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 9-11
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 29, Kerry Wood 4
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, CF3000111 .309
Ken Griffey Jr., RF4020001 .238
Brandon Phillips, 2B4000011 .269
Joey Votto, 1B3010102 .283
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4000013 .259
Adam Dunn, LF3000112 .216
Jeff Keppinger, SS3000001 .292
Paul Bako, C3000010 .301
Aaron Harang, P2010000 .235
    Jared Burton, P0000000 .000
   a- Scott Hatteberg, PH1000000 .132
    Jeremy Affeldt, P0000000 .000
    Mike Lincoln, P0000000 .000
a-flied out for Burton in the 8th
CS - Ken Griffey Jr. (1, 2nd base by Zambrano/Soto)
PK - Joey Votto (1, Zambrano)
Team LOB - 6
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang (L,1-5) 7733260 3.09
Jared Burton 1100010 4.02
Jeremy Affeldt 0.2100000 3.29
Mike Lincoln 0.1000000 3.60
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 113-78, Jared Burton 13-8, Jeremy Affeldt 15-8, Mike Lincoln 5-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 6-9, Jared Burton 2-0, Jeremy Affeldt 1-1, Mike Lincoln 1-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 30, Jared Burton 4, Jeremy Affeldt 3, Mike Lincoln 1
Game Information
Attendance - 21153
Game Time - 2:30
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Tim Welke