Major Leagues: National Roundup
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 23, 2008
The National League Roundup …PITTSBURGH ó In a division where two managers bat their pitchers ahead of position players, Carlos Zambrano is content to remain the Chicago Cubs’ No. 9 hitter every fifth day.
Even if the ace right-hander hits like a regular player, not somebody who can’t wait to get his three futile swings over with so he can flee to the dugout.
Zambrano had four hits to go with a stellar seven innings on the mound and Reed Johnson hit a three-run home run and two doubles as the Cubs extended their mastery of division rival Pittsburgh by winning 12-3 Friday night.
The Cubs, who lead the NL Central, are 9-1 against the Pirates this season, 4-0 in Pittsburgh, and 12-1 in their last 13 meetings.
Zambrano (7-1) gave up two runs and six hits ó he allowed seven hits and five runs, four earned, against Pittsburgh in a no-decision Sunday ó and had a career day at the plate. His four-hit game was the first by a Cubs pitcher since Lew Burdette on July 23, 1964.
Zambrano’s 4-for-5 performance elevated his average to .343, which is higher than any Pirates starting position player.
“It goes to show you that when he concentrates, what he’s capable of doing,” manager Lou Piniella said. “Four hits in a game? That’s hard for an everyday player to do, much less a pitcher.”
Zambrano has four career games with three or more hits, two this season.
Zambrano isn’t lobbying for such a move, not with Alfonso Soriano hitting behind him. Soriano had two hits and is 10-for-16 against Pittsburgh the last eight days.
“No, I’m OK with hitting where I am,” Zambrano said. “When you have Soriano hitting after you, you know you’re going to see a lot of fastballs so you take advantage, make adjustments and try to hit the ball hard.”
Diamondbacks 11, Braves 1
ATLANTA ó Doug Davis gave up only one run in seven innings and the Diamondbacks used a five-run first inning to roll .
Atlanta’s Jo-Jo Reyes (2-2) gave up six hits and eight runs, seven earned, in five innings. He walked three, including two in the first.
Giants 8, Marlins 2
MIAMI ó Barry Zito earned his first win of the season after eight straight losses, Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand hit consecutive home runs, and Jose Castillo also connected to help the Giants win their third consecutive game.
Zito (1-8) allowed one run and three hits in 61/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four for his first victory since Sept. 30, 2007.
Nationals 5, Brewers 1
WASHINGTON ó The Nationals turned Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy’s error into four unearned runs in the sixth inning to give Brian Sanches a win in his Washington debut.
Astros 4, Phillies 3
HOUSTON ó Jose Valverde earned a save after getting struck in the face with a line drive and Hunter Pence hit two homers for Houston.
Valverde earned his 15th save 18 chances after Pedro Feliz smacked a lineer off the right side of his face. The closer allowed four hits and two runs in an eventful ninth, before Shane Victorino flew out to center with runners on second and third to end it.
Brandon Backe (4-5) struck out six and gave up six hits in 71/3 innings to help the Astros win for the 11th time in their last 14 home games.
Philadelphia starter Adam Eaton (0-3) allowed Pence’s two homers and lost for the third time in four starts.