Zambrano, Cubs continue hot streak


• Summary: Carlos Zambrano won for the fourth time in five starts and the Cubs beat the Rockies for their sixth win in a row.

• Turning point: Mark DeRosa hit a three-run homer in the third inning to make it 4-0.


height=90 align=right alt="Mark DeRosa">



• Hero: DeRosa's seventh homer of the season came with two outs.

• Unsung hero: Zambrano improved to 9-6 and is on a run since his dugout brawl with former teammate Michael Barrett.

• Figure this: Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot homered and went 3-for-4 to finish 9-for-13 in the series.

• Quotable: "He hits the ball like a man. I feel happy for him." -- Zambrano on Fontenot

-- news services

Cubs 6, Rockies 4

CHICAGO (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano praised his smaller teammate Mike Fontenot, while making a joke at the rookie's expense. That's how loose the Chicago Cubs are right now.

"I didn't know short men could hit the ball like that," Zambrano said Wednesday after the Chicago Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 6-4 and stretched their winning streak to six.

"He hits the ball like a man," Zambrano added. "I feel happy for him."

Zambrano got his fourth win in five games, Mark DeRosa hit a three-run homer and Fontenot added a solo shot while going 3-for-4. Fontenot finished the three-game sweep of the Rockies 9-for-13 after going 5-for-5 Monday night.

"What a job he's done, huh? He really has," manager Lou Piniella said after the Cubs extended their longest winning streak since a seven-game run from May 27-June 2, 2005.

"Winning is like a massage," Piniella said. "It's like a relaxer. You start playing with more confidence."

Fontenot certainly has confidence right now.

At age 27 and generously listed at 5-foot-8, Fontenot raised his average to .408 since being called up from the minors nearly three weeks ago and giving the Cubs the productive No. 2 hitter they've been seeking. He came to the Cubs in the 2005 deal that sent Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles.

"I've never been in this kind of a zone," Fontenot said. "I've been trying to put a good swing on the ball. I've been getting extra-base hits pretty much my whole career."

Zambrano (9-6) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, improving to 4-1 since his dugout and clubhouse fight with former teammate Michael Barrett on June 1. In his only loss during that five-game stretch, he took a no-hit bid into the eighth against San Diego before losing 1-0.

The Rockies, meanwhile, lost their sixth straight game since they swept three from the Yankees. It's Colorado's first six-game skid since last August.

Before their recent struggles in Toronto and at Wrigley Field, the Rockies had won 20 of 27.

"It's almost strange," Rockies starter and loser Jason Hirsh said. "We came off such a hot streak and all of a sudden everybody got ice cold. I just think it's a matter of going out and doing what we do. Obviously, the Cubs came in pretty hot and they're a very aggressive hitting team."

Hirsh (3-7), a 6-foot-8 right-hander, gave up five runs and five hits in six innings.

Ryan Theriot hit an RBI single in the second, and DeRosa connected for his seventh homer of the season with two outs in the third following walks to Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd.

"Wasn't bad," Hirsh said. "I really only thought I threw one bad pitch, it was the hanging breaking ball to DeRosa. Other than that, I probably would throw everything else again. I think [the homer] turned out to be a turning point."

Fontenot homered to the back of the right-field bleachers. He'd earlier extended his hitting streak to 10 games when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki lost his pop in the sun and it fell for a single. He added a double in the seventh.

After Zambrano struck out Garrett Atkins with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Brad Hawpe dumped a 3-2 pitch into right for a two-run single.

Angel Pagan's sacrifice fly in the seventh put the Cubs up it 6-2. But Atkins hit a two-run homer in the eighth off rookie Billy Petrick, who made his major league debut after being called up from Double-A on Tuesday.

Carlos Marmol struck out two in a perfect ninth for his first career save, finishing a six-hitter.

"The breaks were going our way when we were playing well," Atkins said. "When you're not playing well, it seems like the calls don't go your way and close pitches don't tend to go your way."

The Cubs (38-39) have a day off before playing NL Central-leading Milwaukee.

"It's an important series for us. We're playing well, we got some nice momentum and we're getting ourselves close to the .500 mark," Piniella said. "Milwaukee is a fine club and it will be a nice challenge for us."

Game notes
Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was given the day off to rest and DeRosa filled in with a couple of nice defensive plays. ... Colorado's Cory Sullivan had his first multihit game of the season since being recalled from Triple-A on June 15. Last season, he had 25 multihit games for Colorado in 126 contests.