|Zambrano cruises to 12th victory for surging Cubs; struggling Willis pounded again|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 18 July 2007 21:22|
The two aces have been going in very different directions lately and that was certainly the case Wednesday.
Carlos Zambrano pitched five shutout innings at Wrigley Field then took the rest of the day off as the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 12-1 to win for the fifth time in six games since the All-Star break.
``I will try to win 20 games,'' Zambrano said. ``I just want to help this team to go to the playoffs.''
Willis was pounded by the Cardinals in the Florida Marlins' 6-0 loss, allowing six runs and 11 hits in three-plus innings. The left-hander drew a smattering of boos from the home crowd for the second straight outing.
Willis (7-9) hasn't won in his past nine starts, the longest winless streak of his career. His last win came May 29 and he hasn't won at home since April 23, going 0-6 at Dolphin Stadium. His ERA rose to 5.13.
``I'm working hard,'' Willis said. ``I'm leaving my heart on the field. If they boo or not, I don't have anything to hold my head down about. I can look in the mirror.''
In other NL games it was, Colorado 5, Pittsburgh 3; Cincinnati 5, Atlanta 4 in 15 innings; Washington 7, Houston 6; Los Angeles 5, Philadelphia 4; Arizona 5, Milwaukee 2; and San Diego 5, New York 4.
In Chicago, Barry Bonds was held out of San Francisco's starting lineup for the third straight day to rest his sore legs. It might not have mattered. Zambrano (12-7) allowed two hits and the Cubs gave him more than enough offense as they won for the 17th time in 22 games. Koyie Hill drove in a career-high five runs with a pair of doubles
``Nobody likes to face Bonds,'' Zambrano said. ``He's a good hitter, look at his numbers. Nobody wants to face that.''
Zambrano improved to 7-2 in nine starts since fighting with former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on June 1.
Matt Cain (3-11), San Francisco's hard-luck right-hander, didn't allow a hit until Cliff Floyd's two-out single started Chicago's four-run fourth inning.
``We didn't bring any game today,'' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.
In Miami, Kip Wells, who is tied for the NL lead in losses, pitched his best game of the season for the Cardinals and won a start for the first time since May 23 against Pittsburgh.
Wells (4-12) went eight innings and allowed two hits, striking out four.
Juan Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and So Taguchi added two hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals. Albert Pujols also had two hits and drove in a run.
The outing was the longest of the season for Wells, who lowered his ERA from 6.25 to 5.75.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Willis is healthy, but just not pitching well.
``We've got to get him right,'' Gonzalez said. ``Obviously he's not right, whether it's his mechanics or whatever it may be.''
Reds 5, Braves 4, 15 innings
Brandon Phillips' two-run single off rookie Jose Ascanio in the 15th inning gave Cincinnati its first three-game sweep in Atlanta since April 1990.
The Reds improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games.
Ascanio (0-1), the seventh Atlanta pitcher, gave up two hits and two unearned runs in two innings.
Michael Gosling (1-0) struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Davies, a starting pitcher, to end the game.
Padres 5, Mets 4
At San Diego, Geoff Blum singled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth for the Padres, who nearly wasted a brilliant performance by Greg Maddux.
Blum singled to right off Joe Smith (2-1) to bring in Khalil Greene and finished 2-for-3.
Milton Bradley and Adrian Gonzalez homered for the Padres, and Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save.
Scott Linebrink (3-2) got the win despite giving up David Wright's tying three-run homer with two outs in the top of the inning. Maddux had been in line for his 341st career victory before the bullpen coughed up a 4-0 lead.
Dodgers 5, Phillies 4
At Los Angeles, Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer and Luis Gonzalez added a tiebreaking solo shot in the sixth inning for the NL West leaders.
Rudy Seanez (6-1) got the victory by throwing one perfect inning of relief. Takashi Saito pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances.
Rookie Kyle Kendrick (4-1) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked none. Ryan Howard hit his 25th homer and scored three runs for the Phillies.
Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 2
At Milwaukee, Mark Reynolds hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning as Arziona snapped the Brewers' four-game winning streak.
Grant Balfour (0-1), who allowed Reynolds' eighth home run of the season, was making his first appearance in a major league game since Oct. 3, 2004, when he pitched for Minnesota. The Australian right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005.
Tony Pena (4-2) pitched two innings of relief, and Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his 28th save.
Rockies 5, Pirates 3
At Pittsburgh, Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton each hit two-run homers, Jeff Francis won his fifth decision in a row and Colorado handed Pittsburgh its sixth straight loss.
Francis (10-5) gave up six hits in seven innings. He is 9-1 in his past 13 starts. He singled in the third off Ian Snell (7-7) to drive in Colorado's first run.
Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche homered for Pittsburgh, which fell a season-low 14 games under .500.
Manny Corpas pitched the ninth for his third save.
Nationals 7, Astros 6
At Washington, Ryan Langerhans hit a three-run homer and Jason Bergmann won for the first time in more than two months.
Bergmann (2-5) was charged with four runs and six hits over six-plus innings, earning his first victory since May 14.
Washington did all of its scoring against Jason Jennings (1-6), who lost his fifth consecutive start - the worst stretch of the 2002 NL Rookie of the Year's career. He went five innings.
The Nationals led 7-2 before Houston scored four runs in the seventh. But reliever Jon Rauch pitched a perfect eighth and Chad Cordero threw a scoreless ninth to earn his 17th save.