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Cubs On Fire

This is the kind of success manager Lou Piniella probably envisioned from the Chicago Cubs and their ace pitcher when he agreed to join the organization.

Carlos Zambrano looks to lead the Cubs to consecutive series sweeps for the first time in more than three years Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.

Oddsmakers have made Chicago -175 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at NL total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -175 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Chicago (37-39) and Zambrano (8-6, 4.27 ERA) stumbled through the first two months of the season, but they appear to have turned it around.

The Cubs were just 22-31 on June 2, but are 15-8 since, including their current five-game winning streak.

"This is the team we all thought we'd be with in spring training,'' said Cliff Floyd after Tuesday's 8-5 victory. "I'm just happy things are looking good for us right now and I hope we continue to play good baseball.''

The Cubs, who swept a three-game weekend series from the Chicago White Sox, have not won six straight games since reeling off seven in a row May 27-June 2, 2005, and haven't swept consecutive series since April 20-25, 2004.

"We're starting to score more runs, we're starting to get timelier hits and we're starting to make more contact with men in scoring position," Piniella said.

Zambrano was 5-5 with a lofty 5.62 ERA after a June 1 game when he fought in the dugout with then-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. He has been brilliant since, though, going 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA in his last four starts.

"You have to have pride,'' Zambrano said after limiting the White Sox to one run and three hits in eight innings of Friday's 5-1 victory. "It was embarrassing, what I did to one of my teammates. ... I'm a good pitcher, and I have to settle down and shut it off, start a new season.''

In his last three starts, he has allowed just eight hits in 25 innings with 26 strikeouts.

Despite a 3.14 ERA in seven career starts versus the Rockies, Zambrano's record in those outings is only 1-4.

Colorado (38-39) has lost a season-high five straight games to fall back below .500, following a stretch where it won 13 of 17.

"We've lost five in a row and it's obviously something we have to turn around,'' said Rockies infielder Jamey Carroll, who drove in three runs on Tuesday. "I'm just hoping we can figure it out as soon as we can and get back to where we had been.''

First baseman Todd Helton is just 1-for-14 (.071) in his last four games, and is batting only .167 (3-for-18) in his career against Zambrano.

Colorado starter Jason Hirsh (3-6, 5.06) looks to put an end to his recent struggles, after being tagged for 10 runs in 8 2-3 innings over his last two outings.

On Friday, the 25-year-old right-hander yielded five runs and five hits - including three home runs - in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-8, 10-inning loss to Toronto.

Hirsh has just one win in his last 11 starts, and may lose his spot in the rotation if he doesn't get things turned around soon.

This will be his first career start against the Cubs.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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