Cubs 12, Giants 1
CHICAGO (AP) _ Just when it seemed Matt Cain could do no wrong, the Chicago Cubs came up with the kind of breakout innings that have landed them right back in the NL Central chase. <br/><br/>Carlos Zambrano
Wednesday, July 18th 2007, 6:02 pm
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CHICAGO (AP) _ Just when it seemed Matt Cain could do no wrong, the Chicago Cubs came up with the kind of breakout innings that have landed them right back in the NL Central chase.
Carlos Zambrano pitched five shutout innings to become the National League's first 12-game winner, Koyie Hill drove in a career-high five runs on a pair of doubles, and the surging Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 12-1 on Wednesday.
``I will try to win 20 games. After 16, after 17, it's good for a pitcher,'' Zambrano said. ``I just want to help this team to go to the playoffs.''
Slugger Barry Bonds was held out of San Francisco's starting lineup for the third straight day to rest his sore legs, and it might not have mattered. Zambrano (12-7) allowed two hits and the Cubs gave him more than enough offense in their fifth win in six games since the All-Star break and 17th in 22 overall.
``Nobody likes to face Bonds,'' Zambrano said. ``He's a good hitter, look at his numbers. Nobody wants to face that.''
But Bonds, swarmed by about 10 security personnel as he made his difficult exit from Wrigley Field through a thick crowd Wednesday, is expected to start Thursday's series finale against left-hander Ted Lilly.
The Giants could really use their star player.
``We didn't bring any game today,'' manager Bruce Bochy said.
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. Jacque Jones got Chicago on the board three batters later on a two-run single that glanced off first baseman Ryan Klesko's glove into shallow right field.
``It's a play I know I should make,'' Klesko said. ``It opened the gates after that.''
Hill followed Jones with a two-run double, then doubled again in the fifth with a drive off the center-field wall to score three. Floyd also had an RBI double earlier in the five-run inning.
Zambrano improved to 7-2 in his nine starts since fighting with then-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on June 1. He went only five innings, likely a precaution with such a big lead after he took a ball off his hand on Dave Roberts' leadoff liner in the first.
Sean Gallagher pitched four innings of relief, allowing the Giants' only run in the ninth and picking up his first career save.
Hill started a day after new catcher Jason Kendall struggled in his Cubs debut and was booed on several occasions after being acquired in a Monday trade with the Oakland Athletics.
The 12 runs matched the Cubs' season high, also done April 16 against San Diego. The margin of victory was the club's biggest of 2007.
``Everybody has been doing their job,'' Hill said. ``That's winning baseball. Everybody has to do their part. ... This team never feels like it is out of a game. We could have been down 9-0 and we would have felt like we were going to come back or had a chance at coming back and winning.''
Hill gave Chicago enough production to keep the Cubs from missing first baseman Derrek Lee _ finishing with the most RBIs by a Cubs catcher at Wrigley Field in more than 10 years. Lee dropped his appeal and began serving a five-game suspension Wednesday for his role in a June 16 brawl with the San Diego Padres.
Lee started serving the suspension, in part, because he has a sore left ankle after fouling a pitch off it Tuesday night. Daryle Ward replaced him at first base.
Aside from Bonds, Bochy also rested shortstop Omar Vizquel and catcher Bengie Molina for part of the day after the club ended a five-game losing streak.
Molina was called upon in the fifth when backup Guillermo Rodriguez left the game with dehydration and heat illness. A rookie after 12 years in the minor leagues, Rodriguez had a concussion last summer and the Giants will be careful with him now. He said he hopes his condition Wednesday was not a post-concussion symptom.
Moments after his second passed ball helped the Cubs take a 5-0 lead, Rodriguez went to the mound and was visited by trainer Dave Groeschner and then manager Bruce Bochy. Rodriguez returned to the plate, then finally walked off the field with Groeschner on a humid 80-degree day. Zambrano, a fellow Venezuelan, also complained of a heat headache.
Rodriguez was given an IV and put in a cold tub, and was feeling better afterward. He said he became weak, tired and dizzy, making it nearly impossible to see the ball.
Notes: Zambrano has a scoreless innings streak of 15 2-3 dating to his July 8 start at Pittsburgh. ... The last Cubs catcher with five or more RBIs was Paul Bako on April 5, 2003, when he drove in six at Cincinnati. Scott Servais was the last catcher to do it at Wrigley, driving in five runs on May 19, 1997. Hill's previous career high was four RBIs on Aug. 16, 2004, against Pittsburgh while with Arizona. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez took a scheduled day off to rest his sore left knee, while Floyd returned after missing three games with a sore left shoulder. He dove for a ball in the first inning Saturday and had to leave the game. ... Rodriguez was playing in just his 11th game this season.