Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 1

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PHOENIX (AP)—Carlos Zambrano’s knees buckled and he threaded his fingers behind his head. He couldn’t believe he just lost his no-hit bid on an extremely close play.

Zambrano did not allow a hit until Shea Hillenbrand’s infield single with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Friday night.

“I was real, real sad about that play,” Zambrano said. “Four more outs to throw a no-hitter … I was really sad. I saw the play on the field and thought he was out. But he’s human and anybody can make a mistake.”

Sammy Sosa homered twice and Curt Schilling struck out 14. But Zambrano got all the attention as he tried to make history.

Arizona had not come close to a hit until Hillenbrand topped a ball down the line in the eighth. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez charged, gloved it and made a throw that first baseman Randall Simon stretched to catch.

First-base umpire Bill Miller called Hillenbrand safe. A TV replay, however, appeared to show Hillenbrand was out.

“I had the play safe,” Miller said. “I saw a replay—it was a point where Randall made a great stretch, made a great play. I have to go with what I had on the field.”

Simon stood up from his crouch and leaned back in disbelief at the call.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker did not come out to argue.

“From the dugout it looked like he was out,” Baker said. “At that point it (arguing) isn’t going to change it, number one. And number two, I’ve seen many times when a guy breaks up a no-hitter and he ends up losing concentration and focus. You don’t want to do anything to break up his concentration or focus.”

Zambrano (12-9) finished with a three-hitter. He lost his shutout bid in the ninth when Carlos Baerga walked, Luis Gonzalez singled with two outs and Raul Mondesi followed with an RBI double off the third-base bag.

“I think he had a good chance at the no-hitter because there’s a good chance Gonzalez never gets to the plate,” Baker said.

Chicago moved into second place in the NL Central, a half-game behind the Houston Astros.

Sosa extended his streak of 30-homer seasons to nine, the sixth-longest in major league history. His second home run also was his 500th in a Cubs’ uniform, 12 short of Ernie Banks’ franchise record.

“I feel great. I feel very happy,” Sosa said. “I just have to continue doing my job. This isn’t a time to celebrate right now. Maybe when my career’s finished I can see everything I’ve been doing.”

Sosa hit a towering, two-run homer just over the right-field fence in the first inning and added a 453-foot shot leading off the fourth. Sosa has four multihomer games this season and 62 in his career.

The Cubs slugger has 529 career home runs. He moved within five of Jimmie Foxx for 11th place on the all-time list.

Ramirez hit his 19th homer.

Schilling (7-7) was tagged for all three home runs. He allowed four runs and six hits in eight innings and matched a season-high for strikeouts.

“That’s kinda the way it’s been going lately,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. “We make mistakes and they end up in the seats. Those were about the only mistakes he made in the ballgame.”

Zambrano retired the first 12 batters he faced before walking Mondesi to lead off the fifth inning. Zambrano then retired the next 11 Arizona hitters in a row before Hillenbrand’s single.

“I don’t think it would have made any difference what lineup we ran out there,” Brenly said. “There are given nights when a guy has it all going and is in a great rhythm. I don’t think there was much of anything we could havedone tonight to shake him.”


Milt Pappas through the Cubs’ last no-hitter, a 8-0 win over San Diego on Sept. 2, 1972, at Wrigley Field. … The Diamondbacks fell 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race. … Sosa has eight home runs in 52 career at-bats against Schilling. … Schilling struck out Simon in the fourth for his 2,500th career strikeout, then got former teammate Tony Womack in the sixth to pass Christy Mathewson for 24th on the all-time list at 2,503. Schilling has 85 career games with double-digit strikeouts. … Mondesi started in center field for the first time since last Sept. 22, in Detroit for the New York Yankees. Mondesi replacedSteve Finley, hitless in his last 12 at-bats.

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