Tony Gwynn: Best could be ahead for Cubs
Carlos Zambrano has been fairly tough to hit this year. It’s been even tougher for the burly right-hander to control his pitches.
Through three games, Zambrano is limiting hitters to a .238 average. However, he has issued 12 walks over 16 2-3 innings after walking 86— eighth-most in the majors—in a career-high 223 1-3 innings last year.
“I hate them,” said Zambrano about the walks. “I have to be able to control them and throw more strikes.”
Zambrano received his first decision of the year in an 8-3 loss to Cincinnati last Thursday, allowing five runs and four hits over six innings while walking three.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker wasn’t worried about his 24-year-old right-hander.
“He’s still very young, and one thing’s for sure, this guy has dynamite stuff and he’s going to win a lot of ballgames for us,” Baker said. “This wasn’t typical Carlos.”
Zambrano is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Dodgers in seven career appearances, including three starts.
The Cubs are hoping for a pitching performance from the youngster similar to what Greg Maddux gave them on Monday in his first outing since turning 40. Maddux allowed one run and three hits over eight innings to improve to 3-0 and notch his 321st victory in a 4-1 win in the series opener.
“I heard Julio Franco say a million times, ‘Age is just a number,”’ Maddux said. “I’m finally starting to understand what he meant by that. I used to laugh at him 10 years ago, but I know what he means now.”
The four-time Cy Young Award winner also had an RBI single to trigger a three-run fifth inning. Todd Walker homered and drove in two runs for Chicago (8-4).
The Cubs, whose starters have a 2.25 ERA over the last three games, improved to 3-1 on a nine-game road trip.
Struggling right fielder Jacque Jones returned to the lineup for the Cubs after not starting the last five games due to a strained right hamstring. Jones went hitless in four at-bats and saw his average drop to .091.
The Dodgers (6-8) are 2-5 at home, where they have scored only five runs over the last four games.
Los Angeles second baseman Jeff Kent was out of the lineup Monday due to a slight headache and a sore spot on his head after being beaned in Sunday’s loss to San Francisco. Kent, who was taken to a hospital after being hit by the pitch, indicated he would return soon.
“I’ve been hit in the head a few times,” Kent said. “That one hurt. I should have retired. One pitch too late.”
Dodgers right-hander Derek Lowe seeks to win his second consecutive outing after going 0-1 in his first two starts. He allowed four runs—two earned— over six innings in a 13-5 victory at Pittsburgh last Thursday.
Lowe went 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in two starts against the Cubs last season, his only two career appearances against them.
Cubs slugger Derrek Lee is 6-for-12 against Lowe with five strikeouts.