|Piniella pulls Zambrano after only 85 pitches|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 19:16|
The Cubs manager said he would limit Carlos Zambrano to about 100 pitches against Arizona in Game 1 of the NL playoff series. He had an even quicker hook, lifting his ace after 85 pitches with the game tied at 1 in the seventh.
Reliever Carlos Marmol immediately surrendered a tiebreaking homer to Mark Reynolds, and the Diamondbacks defeated the Cubs 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Piniella said he was keeping Zambrano on a pitch count because he planned to bring him back on three days' rest for Game 4 on Sunday night.
``That means probably that we won't let Zambrano throw all that many pitches tonight - 105, 110,'' Piniella said before the game. ``We'll shorten him up, 100 pitches, whatever it is.
``We've got a good bullpen; we believe in it. I don't have any concerns.''
Zambrano allowed one run and four hits in six innings, struck out eight and walked one. He threw 54 strikes.
If it hadn't been for Stephen Drew, Zambrano might have picked up his first career playoff victory in his fourth postseason start. Drew hit a solo homer off Zambrano in the fourth, then robbed the right-hander of an RBI single in the fifth.
The home run was Zambrano's only mistake. But it was a big one on a night the Cubs struggled against Arizona ace Brandon Webb.
Zambrano, a .247 hitter with two doubles this season, had the only extra-base hit against Webb, a line-drive double to left leading off the third.
But Webb, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, struck out Alfonso Soriano, Jacque Jones and Derrek Lee.
Zambrano pitched out of early trouble. Chris Young hit Zambrano's second pitch up the middle for a single, then stole second two pitches later, easily beating the throw by Geovany Soto.
With the speedy Young dancing off second base, Zambrano recovered nicely, striking out Drew. Then he got Eric Byrnes to ground out to shortstop and struck out Tony Clark on a 3-2 breaking ball.
Zambrano had retired eight of nine before Drew homered to lead off the fourth. Drew hurt Zambrano again in the fifth, leaping to snag his line drive and strand a runner on second base.