The Cubs hope for both from their staff ace as they try to bounce back from just their second loss in 12 games as they continue a four-game road set with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday afternoon.
Chicago (39-23) lost 3-0 at Los Angeles on Friday, but still owns the best record in the majors and leads the NL with 346 runs. The Cubs, however, mustered just four hits against the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda, who tossed the club’s first shutout since 2005, and were shut out for the third time this season in losing two of three since their season-high nine-game winning streak.
The Cubs, who are 13-15 away from Wrigley Field and play 17 of their 26 games in June on the road, hope Zambrano can pick the team up Saturday.
Zambrano (8-1, 2.51 ERA) wasn’t sharp, but still earned the victory despite allowing three runs and five hits in five innings of a 7-6 victory over San Diego on Monday to improve to 7-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The right-hander helped his cause by going 3-for-3 with an RBI to raise his batting average to .366 (15-for-41) on the season.
“It was good to help my team,” Zambrano told the Cubs’ official Web site. “Any time you can help yourself is a blessing.”
Zambrano is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in seven career starts versus Los Angeles, but didn’t factor in the decision after allowing a run in eight innings while throwing 130 pitches in Chicago’s 2-1, 10-inning victory over Los Angeles on May 28.
Los Angeles’ Derek Lowe (3-5, 4.17) outpitched Zambrano in that contest last month, giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven starts versus the Cubs, but hasn’t recorded a decision against them in his last five outings.
The right-hander looks for another solid effort after allowing a run and five hits in eight innings of an 8-2 victory over Colorado on Monday for his first win since beating Arizona on April 23.
“It’s been a long time,” said Lowe, who went 0-4 with a 6.02 in seven games between wins. “You’re going to go through good and bad spells. So you’ve got to believe in yourself that you can turn it around.”
Derrek Lee, who had one of the Cubs’ four singles Friday, is 10-for-25 with a homer and five RBIs versus Lowe, who prior to Kuroda’s gem Friday, was the last Dodger to throw a shutout, beating Chicago 7-0 at Wrigley on Aug. 31, 2005.
Jeff Kent went 1-for-3 with an RBI before being ejected for arguing a called third strike in the fifth inning Friday as Los Angeles snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 1-4 against Chicago in 2008. It was just the Dodgers’ fourth win in 15 games.
“We haven’t strung anything together here for a while and we just need to do that for our own confidence,” manager Joe Torre told the Dodgers’ official Web site.
Kent, who homered twice in a 5-4 loss to the Cubs on Thursday, is 6-for-11 against Chicago in 2008.