While he hasn’t been as sharp as the Cubs likely would have hoped, Zambrano’s lengthy streak of winning decisions remains alive.
Seeking a career-best 10th consecutive victory, Zambrano takes the mound Wednesday night as the visiting Cubs and Houston Astros conclude their three-game set.
After going 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his last 10 starts of 2010, Zambrano (1-0, 5.25 ERA) brought high hopes into this year.
While Zambrano has been shaky at times in his first two outings, surrendering seven earned runs over 12 innings, the Cubs are 2-0 when the three-time All-Star takes the mound.
Despite allowing four runs in six innings of Friday’s 7-4 victory at Milwaukee, the right-hander earned his ninth straight winning decision - matching the longest run of his career from June 5-July 30, 2006.
“I’m keeping the streak going,” Zambrano, who has recorded a 1.91 ERA en route to winning seven straight road starts, told the Cubs’ official website. “It’s about winning.”
The 29-year-old Zambrano has experienced plenty of that against the Astros (3-8) lately, going 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA in his last six starts in the series - including a no-hitter Sept. 14, 2008, at Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Zambrano is 13-8 with a 2.65 ERA in 29 career starts versus the Astros.
Rodriguez allowed one run and eight hits over seven innings of Friday’s 4-3 loss to Florida.
“You see how Wandy threw, he threw amazing,” first baseman Brett Wallace(notes) said. “He went out there and gave us a great chance to win. Our defense played well behind him, for the most part. Next time, we can hopefully put up a few more runs.”
Scoring wasn’t an issue for Houston on Tuesday night, when it recorded its highest run total of the season in an 11-2 win over Chicago (5-6).
Houston collected at least 10 hits for a fifth consecutive game for the first time since May 1-5, 2009, and raised its home batting average to .339.
“Bourn and Sanchez are doing an outstanding job,” Pence said. “It feels like every at-bat I’ve got runners everywhere. It feels good. When they’re doing that the offense is coming around and that’s a good ball game when they’re doing that.”
Rodriguez, who has gone 2-0 while allowing no more than one run in each of his last five home starts against the Cubs, hasn’t faced Chicago at Minute Maid Park since opposing Zambrano in a 2-1 Astros win June 10, 2009. Neither pitcher factored in the decision.
The left-hander went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts against Chicago at Wrigley Field last season.