LOS ANGELES (AP)—A day after the Cubs’ bullpen wilted, things took a turn for the better.
Aramis Ramirez and Mark DeRosa hit back-to-back home runs and reliever Will Ohman struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Kent with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to help preserve Chicago’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
“That’s a huge win,” Ohman said.
Carlos Zambrano (5-4) gave up two runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings, struck out a season-high eight and walked one in his second-best start of the season. He allowed one run in eight innings in a 10-1 victory over the Mets on May 15.
“I was feeling good,” he said. “I was able to throw strikes and that was the key. I threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and that helped me a lot. When you make your pitches and attack the strike zone, you’re going to win games.”
Zambrano gave up his second run in the eighth, a two-out RBI single by Nomar Garciaparra that cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-2. The right-hander walked Russell Martin to load the bases before giving way to Ohman, who got Kent on a called third strike.
“I felt like the best pitch was a slider,” Ohman said. “The scouting report says that he will sit on a certain pitch. So if he was sitting on a fastball, then I guessed right. But regardless, it was an out and it put us in a good situation to get the win.”
Ryan Dempster got his 11th save in 12 chances. Dempster allowed singles to Andre Ethier and pinch-hitter Mike Lieberthal before getting pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz to ground into a game-ending double play.
“It’s about time we got a ball hit at somebody at the end of the ballgame. We turn a double play and we win a game,” Cubs manager Lou Pinella said.
In a 9-8 loss Friday, the Cubs’ bullpen imploded in the eighth, giving up four runs after the team scored seven in the previous inning to take the lead.
Pinella was decidedly upbeat Saturday after watching Ohman and Dempster.
“These kids are going to start pitching good ball out of the bullpen. I really mean that,” he said. “We have the arms out there to get this thing done. There’s no question in my mind.”
Chicago’s Derrek Lee, the NL’s leading hitter, went 0-for-4.
The Dodgers had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Mark Hendrickson (2-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings, struck out four and walked none in losing his second straight.
Facing the Cubs for the first time in his career, Hendrickson struggled with his control and location in the second inning. He gave up three consecutive hits, including the homers, before getting an out.
Ramirez hit Hendrickson’s first pitch of the inning for his 12th homer. DeRosa followed with his fifth homer, hitting a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
“Those were probably pitches that were just a little bit up. They were outside and they hit them out,” Hendrickson said. “I felt very good with my pitches. I was throwing strikes, coming after them. There were some hits that were unfortunate and then there were some hits that kind of hurt.”
Then Matt Murton singled, took second on Hendrickson’s wild pitch and moved to third when former Dodger Cesar Izturis dropped a single into left. But Murton was stranded when Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.
Hendrickson retired the side in the third, but found trouble again in the fourth. The Cubs added two runs on RBI singles by Henry Blanco and Soriano to take a 4-0 lead as boos rained down on Hendrickson.
The Dodgers’ first run came on Wilson Betemit’s two-out homer in the seventh.
“I was upset because with an 0-2 count, I should have thrown a couple in the dirt,” Zambrano said. “That’s a rookie mistake and that ticked me off.”
It was the first time this season that the Cubs have hit consecutive homers and the first time Dodgers’ pitching has surrendered back-to-back homers. … Dodgers LF Luis Gonzalez singled in the second for his 2,416th hit, moving him past Mickey Mantle into 100th on the career list. … The Cubs improved to 9-20 when scoring six runs or less this season. … Martin went 0-for-3 batting cleanup for the first time in his 167-game major-league career. … Since 2006, Hendrickson has received the worst run support (3.35 runs) of any pitcher in the majors with a minimum of 163 innings.