Clinging to a one-game lead atop the National League wild card standings, the Chicago Cubs send slumping right-hander Carlos Zambrano to the mound as they continue a three-game series with the visiting San Diego Padres.
Zambrano, who is eligible to return to the Cubs rotation after serving a five-game suspension he got for hitting St. Louis’ Jim Edmonds with a pitch July 19 at Wrigley Field, is just 1-3 in his last five starts after winning nine of his first 12 decisions this season.
This is his first start since last Wednesday, when he allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings and didn’t receive the decision in Chicago’s 11-8 victory at Colorado. Tied with the New York Mets’ Tom Glavine and Los Angeles’ Odalis Perez for the fifth-best in the majors at 2.92, Zambrano is 2-0 in two career starts against the Padres. He has a 6-1 record with a 1.99 ERA in eight starts at home this season.
The Cubs dropped the opener 8-6 on Tuesday, leaving them with only a one-game lead over the Padres and two over San Francisco for the wild card lead.
Chicago hit four homers in losing for the fifth time in 14 games. Sammy Sosa belted his 25th homer of the season and 564th of his career, moving past Reggie Jackson into sole possession of eighth place on the career list. Next up is Harmon Killebrew at 573.
Nomar Garciaparra, acquired from Boston on July 31, also homered—his first as a Cub. In seven games with Chicago, the shortstop is batting .367 (11-for-30) with a homer and four RBIs.
Ramon Hernandez led the Padres to only their second victory in eight games. The catcher hit a three-run homer and finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Ryan Klesko added an RBI for San Diego after going 2-for-3. He is hitting .625 (5-for-8) with a homer and four RBIs in his career against Zambrano.