Is there anything Carlos Zambrano can’t do?
Big Z pitched six strong innings on the mound and went 3-for-3 at the plate to help propel the Chicago Cubs to a 9-3 win over the visiting New York Mets Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Carlos Pena hit a two-run homerun and Alfonso Soriano added a two-run double for the Cubs (22-26), who pounded-out 17 hits.
After a 31-minute rain delay, Zambrano and the Cubs took control early. The Mets took the lead in the third after two Darwin Barney errors allowed Jose Reyes to cross the plate after a leadoff double, but the Cubs responded with a four-run fourth inning to take the lead for good.
After a leadoff walk to Starlin Castro, Carlos Pena drove a pitch from Mets right-hander Pedro Beato into the right field bleachers for his sixth homerun of the season, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs increased their lead later in the inning on a Koyie Hill RBI groundout, and on Zambrano’s second hit of the game, which drove in rookie centerfielder Tony Campana.
The four runs were more than enough for Zambrano (5-2, 4.59), who gave up one earned run and scattered six hits through six innings.
The win in the series finale against the Mets Thursday kicked-off the nine-game home stand with a series victory, which is exactly what the injury-riddled Cubs needed.
For the Cubs to continue to win games, they need production from the players who are taking the spots of injured position players like Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd. They got that against the Mets on Thursday, as Campana went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored a run.
It also won’t hurt if the Cubs get production from their starting pitching. While Casey Coleman allowed six runs in under two innings of work in Wednesday’s 7-4 loss to the Mets, Zambrano and Tuesday’s starter, Ryan Dempster (3-4, 6.29), are showing why they are considered aces of the pitching staff. Dempster allowed seven hits and one earned run in seven innings of work in Tuesday’s win over the Mets.
Zambrano put a cap on his day with a double in the sixth inning, his third hit of the day. Big Z was perfect at the plate in the series, going 4-for-4 with three RBI’s.
The Cubs also got production on the offensive-end from Kosuke Fukudome and rookie Darwin Barney. Fukudome hit his first homerun of the season in the eighth inning off of Mets reliever Jason Isringhausen, and Barney continued to have a hot-bat, going 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI.
The win puts the Cubs 6.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. The home stand will continue on Friday at 1:20 p.m., as the Cubs will welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to Wrigley Field.