Saturday, July 18, 2009
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Zambrano's arm, bat power Cubs' 3-1 victory

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[July 18, 2009]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano worked five effective innings after a shaky start and hit a key two-run double, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

InsuranceZambrano (6-4) gave up an unearned run and four singles to win his second consecutive start after going 0-2 in his previous six outings. He struck out four and walked four in a 113-pitch effort as the Cubs won for the fourth time in five games.

Washington fell to 0-2 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, who took over when Manny Acta was fired Monday. Nyjer Morgan had three hits for the Nationals, who have lost eight of nine to lower their major league-worst record to 26-63.

Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg combined to pitch four innings of two-hit ball after Zambrano departed, with Gregg earning his 17th save in 20 opportunities. Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs.


Zambrano labored through a 40-pitch first inning and the right-hander's control problems put him in a 1-0 hole. The Nationals loaded the bases on a pair of walks and an error before Willie Harris walked with two out to force in a run.

Second baseman Mike Fontenot's sprawling, backhanded grab of Josh Bard's grounder up the middle, followed by a no-look flip to shortstop Ryan Theriot for an inning-ending forceout, prevented further damage.

Zambrano quickly atoned for his wildness, coming up with a big hit in the second. Milton Bradley drew a leadoff walk and Fontenot doubled with one out to put runners on second and third. After Koyie Hill grounded out, Zambrano doubled down the right-field line to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

Ramirez hit a two-out drive off Craig Stammen into the seats in left in the third. It was his fifth homer.

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Stammen (2-5), pushed up a day after left-hander Scott Olsen was scratched from Friday's start with back muscle tightness, allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.

NOTES: Washington SS Cristian Guzman (bunions) was scratched and replaced by Alberto Gonzalez. ... Chicago played without OF Alfonso Soriano, who was nursing a swollen pinkie finger on his right hand. Soriano was injured diving back to first when he was tagged out after making a wide turn on a single Thursday night. ... Chicago manager Lou Piniella said LHP Ted Lilly's scheduled start on Saturday is in jeopardy because of a sore left knee. If Lilly is unable to go, RHP Randy Wells would be moved up instead of starting Sunday. ... Cubs LF Micah Hoffpauir made a nice grab to end the third, pushing past a frozen-in-place ball girl, diving into the stands and outmuscling a fan for Harris' foul pop.

Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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