Cubs complete sweep of Pirates behind Zambrano
Zambrano won for the first time since July 22 by limiting the slumping-again
Playing before a sparse crowd that was announced at 10,899 but looked – and sounded – like it was much smaller, the
The first two games of the series featured the
No streaks in this one – just a lively conversation as Piniella replaced Zambrano after the right-hander warmed up to start the seventh. When the
The hard part for Piniella was telling Zambrano, who clearly didn’t want to leave. Zambrano and Piniella had an animated talk on the mound that continued in the dugout.
“I wanted to pitch another inning but it’s Lou’s decision,” said Zambrano, who struck out eight and gave up five hits. “You saw the replay, everybody thought I was arguing but we were just talking. Every time Lou talks it seems like he’s mad, the way he moves his hands, but he’s not. He’s very professional.”
Zambrano was sidelined recently for three weeks by back spasms, and Piniella was satisfied with his 98-pitch outing.
“Like I told him, let’s get built (up), let’s get you stronger and stronger,” Piniella said. “That was the conversation on the mound. I told him, ‘Next time if you want, we won’t warm anybody up and we’ll let you pitch nine innings.’ ”
Zambrano (8-6) was 0-2 in his previous five starts and hadn’t won since beating the
It may be too late to save the
“Professionally, for me, it’s been miserable,” he said. “I think I only have to win. This is my first year I’ve been so poor in the second half. (I’m) just trying to finish the season strong.”
Now 30 games under .500, they are careening toward a fifth consecutive 90-loss season and their seventh since 2000. They have lost 12 of 13, the second time they’ve done that while going 9-26 since Aug. 2.
Hart, dealt to the
“I’m going to stay positive,” Hart said. “I’ve gone through stretches like this before, in the minor leagues, and came out on top and I’m not going to let it beat me.”
Helped by four walks by Hart, the
Karstens, out since Aug. 25 with a lower back strain, was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list. ..