Cubs 14, Marlins 3

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CHICAGO (AP)—Carlos Zambrano seems to keep getting stronger as the season goes on.

Zambrano scattered six hits over eight innings, and the Chicago Cubs scored eight runs in the seventh to beat the Florida Marlins 14-3 and snap a three-game losing streak.

Zambrano (11-5) struck out six and walked two, and helped himself at the plate with a triple and a run. He is 7-1 in his last 12 starts.

“I’ve been working hard on strength and conditioning,” Zambrano said. “When you do a good job and take care of your body, at the end of the season you feel strong.”

The Cubs retired Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg’s number before the game, then got three hits from MVP candidate Derrek Lee, including two solo homers. It was his eighth two-homer game this season and the 17th of his career. The shot in the first inning was the 200th homer for Lee and the 38th this season, breaking a tie with Ernie Banks for the most by a Cubs first baseman.

Jerry Hairston had three hits, a run and four RBIs, and Todd Hollandsworth had two hits, including a two-run double in the seventh.

Carlos Delgado hit a three-run homer for the Marlins, whose three-game win streak ended. It was the third time this season—and the second time against the Cubs—Florida allowed 14 runs, tying a season high.

Marlins starter Josh Beckett (12-8) allowed six runs—five earned—and seven hits in six-plus innings. Florida, which took two of three from the Cubs, started the day a half-game behind Philadelphia in the wild-card standings.

“We won the series—that’s the main thing,” Beckett said. “It would have been nice to sweep. It’s just one of those deals. You can’t give up that many runs to that good of a pitcher.”

The Cubs broke a 3-all tie with an unearned run in the sixth and chased Beckett in the seventh.

Zambrano led off the seventh with a triple and the next batter, Hairston, drove him in with a single that knocked out Beckett. Antonio Alfonseca retired Todd Walker, but surrendered an RBI single to Lee to make it 6-3.

After allowing an infield single by Jeromy Burnitz and walking Nomar Garciaparra to load the bases, Alfonseca was ejected by home plate umpire Laz Diaz. John Riedling relieved and gave up a two-run double to left by Hollandsworth.

Ronny Cedeno walked to reload the bases and Henry Blanco cleared them with a double to the left-field corner that made it 11-3.

After going 0-for-8 the first two games of the series, Lee hit solo shots in the first and eighth, giving him 39 homers—second in the National League to Atlanta’s Andruw Jones. Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine took about two steps and watched Lee’s first-inning drive sail over the “Ryne Sandberg Second to none” banner hanging from the chain-link fence behind the bleachers.

“I felt like I wasn’t being aggressive,” Lee said. “I was taking the wrong approach. I was being passive. … The first two games, I was taking pitches down the middle, which I hadn’t gotten in a while.”

Two runs scored on Hairston’s infield single to third, giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead in the fifth. He dove in head first, just ahead of Miguel Cabrera’s throw, allowing Garciaparra and a hustling Hollandsworth, who was on second, to score.

The way Zambrano was pitching, the lead appeared safe. He retired nine of the first 10 batters and did not allow a hit until Conine’s infield single with one out in the fourth. He did not allow a runner past first until Juan Pierre’s double with one out in the sixth.

Conine then singled off Zambrano’s chest, and with two out, Delgado sent a 1-0 pitch out to left for his 26th homer and a 3-3 tie.

It was Zambrano’s only mistake.

Lee reached on an error leading off the sixth and scored from third on Cedeno’s two-out single.

“Pitching against a guy like (Zambrano), you can’t give up five or six runs,” Beckett said. “You just can’t do it. He’s going to have a day every once in a while where he does, but they’re going to be few and far between.”

Notes

With their wild-card hopes flickering, the Cubs may decide this week to shut down RHP Kerry Wood for the rest of the season. Wood, who needs surgery on his right shoulder, has pitched in relief since returning Aug. 5 from his second stint on the DL. The decision hinges on whether the Cubs believe they still have a shot at the postseason—a longshot given they entered Sunday’s game 8 1/2 games behind Philadelphia and tied for seventh with Cincinnati. … In the pregame ceremony, the Cubs presented a framed replica of Sandberg’s jersey and hung his number on the right-field foul pole. He is the fourth Cub to have his number retired, joining Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks. … The Dodgers scored 14 against the Marlins on May 17 and the Cubs did it on June 14.

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