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Chicago at Cincinnati

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Chi. Cubs (2-3) «000210010451
Cincinnati (2-3)012000000370

Improved Zambrano, Cubs beat Reds on Baker's home run

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- The shoulder was strong, the legs were fresh. Carlos Zambrano felt like he was taking the mound for the first time this season.

Pretty darn close.

Zambrano recovered from his horrific opening day start by pitching seven solid innings, and pinch-hitter Jeff Baker hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth Saturday, sending the Chicago Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Zambrano (1-1) managed only four outs during the Cubs' 16-5 opening day drubbing in Atlanta, a performance so fast and so futile -- eight runs -- that he spent the rest of the week aching for another chance. The right-hander held the Reds to six hits, including Brandon Phillips' homer, and struck out nine.

"I think I was fresh from the last time," Zambrano said. "Basically, this was my first start. I was excited today. I was hungry to go out there. My first outing was not good. I was anxious to go out there and pitch my game, and I did it today."

His solid start allowed the Cubs to stay away from the unproven middle of their bullpen. John Grabow allowed one hit in the eighth, and Carlos Marmol struck out three in the ninth for his second save in as many chances.

"From what we've experienced here the first five games, our starting pitcher going seven innings is probably the best remedy," manager Lou Piniella said. "We'll get the kids [relievers] work from time to time and get them sharp and hope they improve."

Baker hit his solo shot off left-hander Arthur Rhodes (0-1), Chicago's third homer of the game. Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano also connected off Aaron Harang.

Baker saw a little bit of everything in his first at-bat off the bench this season. Rhodes threw him a changeup away, a fastball in and a slider that was down but over the plate.

"I don't really try to do too much [while] pinch-hitting," said Baker, who now has three career homers in that role. "More likely than not, you're going to fail. It's just about getting a good pitch and not missing it."

Rhodes wasn't too upset at the decisive pitch to Baker.

"Most guys come off the bench looking for a first-pitch fastball, so I started him out with a changeup," Rhodes said. "Then I threw him a fastball and a slider down and away, and he went down and got it."

Both starters were coming off tough times in their season openers. Harang usually gets the better of these matchups -- Zambrano was 1-5 in seven career starts against the Reds' ace coming in.

This time, they ended up essentially even, each giving up three runs in seven innings. Baker's homer -- his first hit in five at-bats this season -- put Zambrano in line for the win.

The Cubs' lineup has been overly reliant on homers so far, scoring 12 of its 17 runs that way. Five of Saturday's starters came in batting .200 or less -- Aramis Ramirez (.200), Marlon Byrd (.167), Geovany Soto (.167), Soriano (.143) and Ryan Theriot (.125).

The homer-or-nothing trend continued. Fukudome hit a two-run shot in the fourth, and Soriano led off the fifth with a homer that tied it at 3.

Harang lasted only five innings of a season-opening 11-6 loss to the Cardinals on Monday, throwing a lot of pitches. This time, he wasn't messing around. Harang's first seven pitches were strikes. He retired the first nine Cubs in order, throwing 29 strikes in 38 pitches.

"You learn from the rough patches," Harang said. "You learn from your mistakes and just go out and do what you can."

Notes

  • Zambrano threw 110 pitches.
  • LH Ted Lilly's rehab start in the minors has been pushed back a second time because of his sore back. Lilly, on the 15-day DL following shoulder surgery, was expected to pitch on Sunday for Triple-A Iowa. Instead, he'll try to throw in a bullpen on Monday.
  • Reds 3B Scott Rolen got a day off. He's a .182 career hitter against Zambrano.
  • RH Mike Leake, the Reds' top draft pick last June, will make his debut on Sunday. Leake pitched for Arizona State last year. He'll be the 21st player since the draft began in 1965 to make the jump without appearing in a minor league game. The last was Xavier Nady with San Diego in 2000.
  • RF Jay Bruce is in an 0 for 16 slump, one shy of his career high.
 
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 recovers from his rough opening day start to toss seven solid innings in Cincinnati.  (AP)
Carlos Zambrano recovers from his rough opening day start to toss seven solid innings in Cincinnati. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

K. Fukudome
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Cincinnati

B. Phillips
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Theriot, SS4110010 .150
Kosuke Fukudome, RF4112000 .313
Derrek Lee, 1B3010110 .313
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000011 .158
Marlon Byrd, CF3000000 .133
Alfonso Soriano, LF3111010 .176
    Tyler Colvin, LF0000000 .111
Mike Fontenot, 2B2000000 .385
   a- Jeff Baker, PH-2B1111000 .200
Geovany Soto, C3000020 .111
    Koyie Hill, C0000000 .167
Carlos Zambrano, P2000020 .000
   b- Xavier Nady, PH1000000 .333
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
Totals3045418  
a-homered for Fontenot in the 8th
b-lined out for Zambrano in the 8th
Batting
HR - Kosuke Fukudome (1, Harang), Alfonso Soriano (1, Harang), Jeff Baker (1, Rhodes)
RBI - Kosuke Fukudome 2 (2), Alfonso Soriano (1), Jeff Baker (1)
CS - Derrek Lee (1, 2nd base by Masset/Hanigan)
PK - Derrek Lee (1, Harang)
Fielding
DP - Fontenot-Theriot-Lee
E - Carlos Zambrano (2, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,1-1) 7633291 11.88
John Grabow (H,1) 1100010 7.71
Carlos Marmol (S,2) 1000030 0.00
WP - Carlos Zambrano (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 110-66, John Grabow 14-9, Carlos Marmol 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 7-4, John Grabow 1-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 28, John Grabow 4, Carlos Marmol 3
Cincinnati Reds
Drew Stubbs, CF4110032 .313
Orlando Cabrera, SS4010021 .200
Joey Votto, 1B3010101 .316
Brandon Phillips, 2B4112002 .158
Jay Bruce, RF3000101 .056
Juan Francisco, 3B4000041 .167
Chris Dickerson, LF4120011 .364
Ryan Hanigan, C3011012 .500
   a- Laynce Nix, PH1000010 .250
Aaron Harang, P1000001 .000
   b- Miguel Cairo, PH1000010 .000
    Arthur Rhodes, P0000000 .000
    Nick Masset, P0000000 .000
Totals32373213  
a-struck out for Hanigan in the 9th
b-struck out for Harang in the 7th
Batting
2B - Chris Dickerson (1, Zambrano)
HR - Brandon Phillips (1, Zambrano)
SH - Aaron Harang (1)
RBI - Brandon Phillips 2 (4), Ryan Hanigan (1)
2-OUT RBI - Brandon Phillips 2 (4), Ryan Hanigan (1)
CS - Joey Votto (1, 2nd base by Zambrano/Soto)
Team LOB - 5
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang 7433072 4.50
Arthur Rhodes (L,0-1) 1111001 4.50
Nick Masset 1000110 15.00
WP - Aaron Harang (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 99-70, Arthur Rhodes 13-8, Nick Masset 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 5-8, Arthur Rhodes 2-1, Nick Masset 1-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 24, Arthur Rhodes 4, Nick Masset 3
Game Information
Attendance - 27235
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Dana DeMuth, First Base - Kerwin Danley, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Doug Eddings