Cubs 8, Mets 6

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NEW YORK (AP)—Carlos Zambrano’s hitting has been almost as good as his pitching.

Just imagine if he was swinging from his favorite side of the plate.

Zambrano hit his fourth homer of the season and won his eighth straight decision, leading the Chicago Cubs to an 8-6 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

“The weird thing is, I’m a much better hitter lefty,” Zambrano said, adding that one of his homers this year came from that side.

But he shies away from batting left-handed because he doesn’t want to expose his pitching arm and possibly let it get hit by a fastball.

“He’s not just a pitcher. He’s a ballplayer,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He does what it takes to win.”

Aramis Ramirez homered again and drove in three runs as Zambrano and the Cubs beat Tom Glavine for the second time in 11 days. Phil Nevin also connected and Henry Blanco hit a three-run double, sending Chicago to its second consecutive victory over the NL East leaders.

“We’re not in the pennant race or anything like that but we’ve got to come in here and do the best we can,” Ramirez said. “We just take advantage of the mistakes they make.”

New York scored once off closer Ryan Dempster in the ninth and loaded the bases with two outs. So Baker brought in Bob Howry, who retired Paul Lo Duca on a popup for his third save.

“I played against him in high school,” Lo Duca said. “I got one or two good pitches to hit. The last pitch was the hardest pitch to hit in baseball, it’s a slider that never broke. It backed up on me. I was waiting for it to break and then I thought it might catch the inside corner, so I swung late.”

Carlos Beltran and super sub Endy Chavez homered for the Mets, who suddenly appear woefully short on pitching. They began the day leading the league with a 4.10 ERA, but have allowed eight runs in each of their past three games.

New York has lost three in a row for only the second time this year.

“I’m not worried about it. I don’t know if anybody else is,” outfielder Cliff Floyd said. “It’s nothing serious.”

Zambrano (11-3) won the matchup of All-Star starters despite a shaky outing — and he helped his own cause with another big blow.

He sliced a leadoff homer to right off Glavine (11-4) in the seventh, becoming the first major league pitcher to hit at least four home runs in a season since Colorado’s Mike Hampton had seven in 2001.

The last Cubs pitcher to hit four was Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, who had six in 1971, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Zambrano’s home run pushed Chicago’s lead to 7-5. Ramirez added an RBI single later in the inning.

Zambrano allowed five runs and eight hits in seven innings, extending his career-best winning streak. He also struck out six, running his NL-leading total to 147.

The right-hander hasn’t loss since a 3-2 defeat May 31 against Cincinnati. He is only the third Cubs pitcher to win at least eight consecutive decisions since 1985.

With one out in the Mets’ ninth, second baseman Neifi Perez made a nice play on pinch-hitter Julio Franco’s RBI groundout, which made it 8-6. Dempster then walked Jose Reyes before he was lifted.

“It did get hairy there. It looked like he was losing command. I know Howry throws strikes,” Baker said. “He was surprised, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

The 40-year-old Glavine gave up a season-high eight runs—five earned—and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, dropping to 0-2 in his last six starts.

“I hope it’s not fatigue. We’ve got a long way to go,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “And I don’t think it is because Tommy’s in great shape.”

Glavine and Zambrano combined to give up four homers in the first two innings.

Ramirez and Nevin hit consecutive solo shots in the first, marking the second straight night the Cubs went back-to-back at Shea Stadium.

Ramirez has seven homers in his last six games and 23 this season. He is 10-for-20 lifetime against Glavine with three homers and five RBIs.

“Giving up two in the first inning is certainly not the way I want to start a game,” Glavine said. “I hate getting the team behind early, but I’ve done that so many times in my career.”

Beltran connected in the bottom half, and Chavez put New York up 4-2 with a three-run shot to the back of the right-field bullpen in the second.

But two walks and an error by Glavine helped Chicago score four times in the third. Ramirez had a sacrifice fly, and Blanco capped the rally with a bases-loaded double.

The Mets cut it to 6-5 on Beltran’s RBI grounder in the fifth. Carlos Delgado then grounded into an inning-ending double play.


Zambrano has eight career homers. … The Mets are 17-5 in Glavine’s starts this season. … Greg Maddux won nine straight decisions for the Cubs in 1988, and Jaime Navarro won eight in a row in 1996.

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