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CHC@MIL: Zambrano reacts to being relieved in seventh

MILWAUKEE -- Miller Park is Carlos Zambrano's second favorite place to pitch, other than Wrigley Field. But on Wednesday, Zack Greinke claimed it as his home turf.

Prince Fielder belted his 23rd homer to back Greinke, who struck out nine over 6 2/3 scoreless innings, as the Brewers edged Zambrano and the Cubs, 2-0.

Zambrano's name came up earlier on Wednesday in Internet trade rumors as being a possible option for the Yankees, if the Cubs were willing to pick up some of the money he's still owed. However, the Yankees apparently aren't interested. Cubs manager Mike Quade didn't think Zambrano would be distracted by the talk.

"I hope nothing comes of it, and he pitches lights out and entices whoever is here looking at him," Quade said. "I think he, like a few guys, are in control of their own destiny, as far as what can or can't happen. ... I just need him to pitch well, that's all."

Zambrano does have a no-trade clause, and would have the last word.

"I do want to stay here," Zambrano said. "At the same time, I want this team to make some changes. If we want to win here, we need to make changes. If I have to go, I have to go, but I'll still have the Cubs in my heart. If the change has to be me, that's OK."

The Cubs haven't approached him about any possible trade.

"If it comes, it comes, and I'll think about it," Zambrano said.

What kind of changes would he like to see the team make?

"Change. A lot of change," he said. "A lot of changes to win."

Does that mean change the players?

"Change," Zambrano said.

He did pitch well enough to entice somebody, posting the ninth quality start by a Cubs pitcher in the last 12 games. But Zambrano was clearly not happy about being lifted in the seventh, when Quade pulled him with two outs and Nyjer Morgan at the plate.

"I think, at that point, I had confidence that I could get Nyjer out," Zambrano said. "It's [Quade's] decision. There's nothing I can do about it."

Morgan, who had doubled off Zambrano in the third, began the day batting .333 against right-handers and .231 against lefties. Those numbers were behind Quade's decision.

"I don't blame him," Quade said about Zambrano asking to face another batter. "I thought, with the two guys coming up behind Nyjer and the way he's struggled in the past against left-handers, [it was time to pull Zambrano]. A lot of decisions ain't easy, and that was not an easy decision. But I thought we needed to try to stop it right there."

The good news is that Zambrano's velocity was strong, and he settled down after the second inning, when the Brewers scored their runs.

"Everybody who goes out there is trying to win the game," Zambrano said. "That's what I do when I go to the mound -- I want to win. I want to give this team a chance to win."

Fielder led off the Brewers' second with his home run, an opposite-field shot, and Rickie Weeks reached on an infield single to shortstop Starlin Castro, who double-pumped before throwing. But it may have been a costly sprint, as Weeks had to be helped off the field with a left leg injury. Casey McGehee then doubled past third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and Yuniesky Betancourt hit a sacrifice fly to put the Brewers ahead, 2-0.

The next time Zambrano faced Fielder was in the third, when the Brewers had two on and one out. He was intentionally walked to load the bases for Craig Counsell, who extended his hitless streak to 0-for-36, and McGehee then grounded out.

Zambrano's personal seven-game win streak at Miller Park was snapped. That stretch included his no-hitter against the Astros in September 2008. Now 7-6 for the season, he's also 1-2 since coming off the disabled list, where he spent time with lower back soreness, and has two wins in his last 10 starts.

Greinke (8-4) also had a quality start and improved to 6-0 at Miller Park. What difference does a venue make? The Cubs beat Greinke at Wrigley Field on June 16, when he gave up eight runs over 5 1/3 innings.

"He had 120 pitches (123) in seven innings," Quade said of the Brewers' ace. "It wasn't like he was one pitch per hitter. You work him the best you can, and he just didn't give in. With that kind of pitch total, I thought our approach was OK."

And the difference between Wednesday and the game in June?

"The difference to me is he kept the ball down so much better -- his change of speeds, his location, everything was a lot better than it was at Wrigley, and he pitched at Wrigley when it was a tough day to pitch," Quade said. "He was much better today."

The Cubs' offense scuffled, as the Nos. 5-9 hitters went 1-for-13. The only hit was Zambrano's single.

"I really like the way he threw the ball," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Greinke. "He kind of picked a little bit a couple of times to get them in pitch-count trouble. But you know, you look at the results and you've got a team that is very aggressive swinging the bat at strikes, and he's trying to make the guys swing a little bit out of the zone."

The Cubs need to change their approach.

"'Z' was excellent," Quade said. "Unfortunately, Greinke was pretty good, too." Comments