Game Eighty-Two – Cubs 3 Nationals 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (10-6) LP – Tim Redding (0-1) Save – Bobby Howry (3)

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella’s crew took care of business against the Nationals on Tuesday night. The Cubs offense was not much of a factor but they gave Carlos Zambrano just enough to pick up his 10th win of the season. The Cubs jumped out in front early once again and scored all 3 of their runs in the first 3 innings. Alfonso Soriano scored twice, including the first run of the game on a RBI single by Ryan Theriot in the 1st inning. Cliff Floyd drove in the other 2 runs in the 3rd inning with a broken bat single to right center with the bases loaded.

Carlos Zambrano was not as sharp as he has been over his last six starts but was just as effective. Zambrano gave up a run on 3 hits, struck out 8 and walked 4; he improved his record to 5-1 in his last 6 starts with a 1.42 ERA. Carlos Marmol once again was just plain nasty out of the pen. Marmol threw 21 pitches in an inning and a third of relief and struck out 2. Will Ohman and Bobby Howry pitched the 9th and Howry struck out the only two batters he faced for the save. For the first time this season the Cubs are 2 games over .500 and have won 10 of their last 11.

Tuesday’s game was one that good teams must win, no matter what. Lou Piniella had his ace on the mound and was playing a team struggling to score runs and stay healthy….Piniella’s crew responded with an effort that was just good enough to get the victory. Ryan Theriot and Cliff Floyd did a good job with runners in scoring position but the offense missed the hot bat of Aramis Ramirez and never appeared to get into the same rhythm they had in recent games. Every win is a good one….

Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a single to right. He stole 2nd with Ryan Theriot at the plate and scored on Theriot’s single to right center. Derrek Lee grounded out to 3rd but Piniella was playing a little hit and run and Theriot advanced to 2nd without a throw from Ryan Zimmerman. Floyd and DeRosa flied out to end the inning.

Carlos Zambrano led off the 3rd with a single to left and Soriano followed with a single off the glove of Zimmerman at 3rd. Theriot sacrificed Zambrano and Soriano to 2nd and 3rd. Derrek Lee was intentionally walked and Cliff Floyd made Tim Redding pay. Floyd singled over the head of Ronnie Belliard into right center….Zambrano and Soriano scored. Mark DeRosa walked but Felipe Lopez made a nice leaping catch to rob Mike Fontenot of at least a single and a couple of RBI’s. Angel Pagan flied out to left to end the inning.

The Cubs managed just 3 hits after the 3rd inning. Mark DeRosa extended his hitting streak to 9 games with a ground rule double down the right field line in the 6th. Angel Pagan added a single in the 6th and Ryan Theriot reached on a 2-out bunt single in the 7th.

Carlos Zambrano had very good stuff once again but lacked the command that he has shown in his previous outings. The lone run he surrendered came in the 5th without a benefit of a hit. Zambrano walked 2 and hit a batter and the only Nationals’ run came on a sacrifice fly by Ronnie Belliard.

Zambrano cruised through the 1st inning, he did not allow a ball to leave the infield and recorded all 3 outs on 11 pitches. But he walked Dmitri Young to lead off the 2nd and gave up a 2-out single to Brian Schneider. Robert Fick followed and a great sliding play (the #3 web gem on Baseball Tonight) by Mike Fontenot in shallow right center saved a run, ended the inning and kept the Nationals from tying the game. Fontenot raced out with his back to the infield and made a very good catch with Angel Pagan racing into make the play.

Ryan Langerhans doubled past Floyd in right center with 1-out in the 3rd but Zambrano settled down and retired Ronnie Belliard on a ground out to 2nd….Langerhans at 3rd with 2-outs. Ryan Zimmerman popped out to shallow right to end the inning….Floyd and Fontenot nearly collided but Floyd caught the ball on his knees.

Zambrano struck out Young on three pitches in the 4th and retired the Nationals in order before getting into a big jam in the 5th. Zambrano walked Schneider to lead off the inning and hit Robert Fick. With runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, Manny Acta pinch-hit for Tim Redding. Tony Batista popped out to Ryan Theriot in short left….Soriano could not find the ball and did not break on the ball. Ryan Langerhans walked to load the bases and Ronnie Belliard followed with a sacrifice fly to right center….Schneider scored the only Nationals’ run. Ryan Zimmerman popped out to 2nd to end the inning.

Felipe Lopez singled to left with 2 outs in the 6th….the last hit Zambrano allowed. He struck out Schneider to end the inning and retired the first two batters in the 7th before walking Langerhans on pitch number 121. Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Carlos Marmol. Marmol struck out Belliard to end the inning…again just plain nasty stuff.

Carlos Zambrano did his job and picked up his 10th win. He is now tied for the most wins in the National League and lowered his ERA to 4.04. Big Z also kept Piniella from using his bullpen too early. Marmol dominated once again but his error in 8th increased his pitch count and brought the tying run to the plate. Marmol retired the first two batters he faced. Ryan Church hit a grounder down the 1st base line that Derrek Lee smothered, he tossed to Marmol and he just simply dropped the ball but Felipe Lopez flied out to center to end the inning.

Will Ohman took the mound in the 9th and retired Schneider on a ground out to Mike Fontenot. Robert Fick singled to right and Piniella brought in Bobby Howry. Howry stuck out Austin Kearns swinging for the second out and Howry struck out Langerhans, swinging, to end the ballgame. Cubs’ pitching totaled 12 strikeouts on the night to go along with 4 walks.

The last time the Cubs were two games over .500 was May 3, 2006 (14-12).

Rich Hill is scheduled to make the start on Wednesday morning (11:05am C.T. start) against another lefty, Matt Chico. Grab your coffee and donuts and start the 4th of July with a ballgame….

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe