Zambrano does it all in Cubs' victory
Right-hander twirls two-hit shutout, tallies two RBIs
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you missed Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter last September, Friday night was the next best thing.Zambrano outdueled Tim Lincecum, throwing a two-hit shutout and driving in two runs to lift the Cubs to a 3-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. "We need Carlos to be on his 'A' game," manager Lou Piniella said before the first pitch. "The other guy can pitch. So can Carlos." Zambrano (9-6) did just that, striking out eight, and didn't get an argument from Piniella when he went out for the ninth. It was an efficient one hour, 56 minute game, the first time the Cubs played under two hours all season. "That's Zambrano's best game of the year, by far," Piniella said. "This is what the guy's capable of doing. We just want to see it more often." Juan Uribe singled to lead off the Giants second and Lincecum singled to start the sixth, and that was it. It was Zambrano's first complete game and shutout since Sept. 14, 2008, when he blanked Houston on his no-hitter in Milwaukee. "I think it's the same stuff I had when I threw my no-hitter," Zambrano said. "Thank God everything went good today and I was able to command the strike zone." "We faced a great pitcher who had great stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I don't know who could've hit him tonight. He was throwing 97 [mph] with a breaking ball and split and his ball was moving." Zambrano still has a chance to finish in double-digit wins for the seventh straight year with a "W" in his last outing Wednesday against Pittsburgh. "Obviously, this is a bad year for me," Zambrano said. "I can still get 10 wins, but it's a disappointing year. I don't want to say 'frustrating.' It's disappointing. There are many games I could've won. "I'll put this year behind me," he said. "Other pitches like Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux have tough years like me. We're human. I just want to finish strong and come back next year and learn from this experience. ... I look forward to coming back next year strong or stronger and healthier and in good shape. That's my goals." Told that Piniella liked what he saw, Zambrano lobbied to stay in Chicago and tried to squelch rumors the Cubs will listen to offers for the high-maintenance right-hander in the offseason. "I don't want to be traded," Zambrano said. "I want to stay here. I love Chicago, I love the city of Chicago and the fans. I'm showing them I can still pitch in the big leagues ... just in case they have something in mind. "I want to stay here, believe me," he said. "My family is happy here. I love this team. ... I want to stay here and come back next year and have a good year. Why not pitch for the Cy Young?" Speaking of Mr. Young, Lincecum (14-7), aka Piniella's "the other guy," struck out seven over seven innings. Kosuke Fukudome doubled to lead off the Cubs sixth and scored on Ryan Theriot's single that skipped past second baseman Eugenio Velez. One out later, Jeff Baker walked but Lincecum got Mike Fontenot to ground into a double play. In the seventh, Bobby Scales singled and moved up on a wild pitch by Lincecum. Koyie Hill struck out, and Sam Fuld singled but was forced at second on Zambrano's ground ball. Big Z beat Velez's throw to first, and Scales scored to make it 2-0. "Every time I go out there, I like to hustle and play the game right," Zambrano said. "It was a good situation to hustle and run hard. I was safe at first." He added an RBI double in the ninth off Randy Johnson, but it's his pitching that drew raves. "That's how you pitch," Hill said. "He was aggressive and got right to the point." The win meant the St. Louis Cardinals will have to keep the champagne on ice another day. Their magic number to clinch the National League Central remained at one after they lost, 2-1, to the Colorado Rockies. "Invariably, it's going to happen," Piniella said of the Cardinals. "We're just trying to win ballgames," Hill said. "We're not concerned with those guys." The Cubs have not been mathematically eliminated and are still alive in the NL Wild Card. "The season's not over," Hill said. "You might see the Cubbies playing in October. You never know."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.