Zambrano pitched eight solid innings and Rey Ordonez hit a
two-run single in the seventh to lead the Cubs over the Pittsburgh
Pirates 6-1 Saturday.
Derrek Lee added a two-run homer in the eighth for Chicago,
which snapped a three-game losing streak.
One day after Prior's brilliant season debut, Zambrano was just
as tough. He allowed one run on four hits, and struck out seven and
walked two. He retired six of the last seven batters he faced.
"It's tough sometimes to follow that the next day, but he came
in and mentally he was locked in and ready to go from his bullpen
on," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said.
Zambrano stopped the Cubs' five-game losing streak last Sunday
against Pittsburgh in a 12-1 win, and he ended up being the stopper
again on Saturday.
"Zambrano has been great all year. He's a dominant pitcher,
when he is on the mound other teams seem like they never get a
bunch of hits or score a lot of runs. We needed that performance
today," Lee said.
Pittsburgh was without manager Lloyd Mclendon, serving the first
of a two-game suspension for his shouting match with Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa on Thursday. The Pirates have lost six of
their last seven games.
The Cubs struggled against Pirates starter Kris Benson until the
seventh. Benson retired the first 10 batters he faced before giving
up an infield hit to Barrett in the fourth inning. Aramis Ramirez
then drew a walk, but Benson bounced back retiring the next seven
Working with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, Benson (4-5) gave up a
leadoff double to Moises Alou and then a single to Ramirez. He
walked Lee to load the bases with one out and was lifted for
reliever Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez got Corey Patterson to hit a
grounder to first, but Pirates first baseman Randall Simon's throw
home sailed over catcher Jason Kendall's head allowing Alou to
score. Ordonez followed with a two-run single to center, scoring
Ramirez and Lee, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
"For the most part, I liked what I saw. For seven innings that
was a pretty good ballgame and the guys played pretty well," said
McClendon who watched the game from a private box. "Defensively we
just gave the game away today."
Benson pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing three runs -- two earned --
and gave up three hits. He struck out seven and walked two.
"It's going to be a tough challenge getting those guys (Alou
and Ramirez) out every point of the game," Benson said.
"Unfortunately I didn't get those outs when I needed them that
last inning and it cost me the ballgame."
Zambrano gave up a leadoff homer to Jason Bay in the seventh on
a 3-2 pitch. The ball landed in the right-field basket, giving the
Pirates a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs padded their lead in the eighth. Alou scored on Todd
Hollandsworth's potential double-play grounder and Lee followed
with a two-run homer to left off Pirates reliever Mark Corey,
giving the Cubs a 6-1 lead.
Cubs RHP Kerry Wood threw long toss before the game. He is
on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain. ... Cubs
OF Sammy Sosa took swings before the game in the batting cages. He
doesn't have a timetable for when he will return.
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