<
>

Zambrano's success brings relief

Carlos Zambrano’s second strong outing out of the bullpen seems to have calmed down the Cubs’ volatile pitcher.

“It’s what they pay me for --to do the job,” Zambrano said. “I’m excited.”

Zambrano threw 1 2/3 innings of one-hit baseball in relief of starter Carlos Silva on Monday night. Although the Cubs’ $91M-dollar man says he’s been promised to return to the rotation, a little more success that leads to Cubs’ victories might be enough to change his mind.

The key element of Zambrano’s addition to the bullpen is that it gives manager Lou Piniella the ability to go lefty-righty-lefty-righty. Piniella can start the seventh with John Grabow , then go to Zambrano and Sean Marshall before getting to closer Carlos marmol.

That grouping of pitchers allows Piniella to freeze the opposing manager when he wants to send a pinch-hitter up in late-inning situations.

Even if General Manager Jim Hendry can pull the trigger on trading for an experienced bullpen guy, it isn’t likely that whoever he’d acquire would throw any better than Zambrano.

The Cubs shaky bullpen could eventually be their strength if Big Z flourishes in his new role.

  • Although Sliva wasn’t involved in the decision Monday night, he did become the first Cubs pitcher in three years to register four quality starts in his first four starts of the season. The last Cubs pitcher to do that was Ted Lilly In 2007.

  • The Cubs are now back to .500 for the first time since April 16 (5-5) after winning their fourth straight game.

  • Outfielder Marlon Byrd is 13 for his last 23 (.565) in his last four games. Byrd also has five straight multi-hit games, matching a career-high.

  • The Cubs used three pitchers named Carlos in Monday night’s victory -- Silva, Zambrano and Marmol. That marks the first time since July 5, 1966 that three pitchers with the same first name appeared in a game for the Cubs (Bill Hands, Billy Conners and Bill Hoeft).