Zambrano goes 5-plus, homers as Cubs rout Pirates

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CHICAGO (AP)—Carlos Zambrano(notes) and the of the Cubs’ offense made Mike Quade’s managerial debut at Wrigley Field relatively easy.

Carlos Zambrano allowed one unearned run in 5 1-3 innings and hit a two-run homer to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 14-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.

Aramis Ramirez(notes) was 2 for 3 with four RBIs to help Quade win his first game at Wrigley Field as manager.

The Cubs scored seven times on seven hits in the fourth and were 7 for 7 to start the inning. They brought 11 batters to the plate to knock out Pirates starter Paul Maholm(notes) (7-13).

“Pick your guy, wow. Zambrano settles down, takes care of business early in the game, put a few runs on the board and everybody is happy. That’s a formula we would like to see, we would like to see every evening,” said Quade.

Rookie Starlin Castro(notes) had three hits and the Cubs improved to 5-2 since Quade took over for Lou Piniella on Aug. 23.

“I feel great, I’m happy with the response we’re getting,” Quade said. “Everything is headed in the right direction.”

Zambrano (6-6) allowed four hits, struck out seven and pitched around four walks. He left after throwing 112 pitches.

Zambrano is 3-0 in five starts since being reinserted into the rotation following a June suspension. He left the team for three days following his last start to travel to his native Venezuela, where his 11-year-old nephew is critically ill with an infection.

“I try not to worry about that, I try not to think about that, but he is still in intensive care, he is still breathing by machine and I called my brother before the game and he said if he continues, probably by Wednesday or Thursday they will take him off and let him breathe by himself,” Zambrano said.

The Pirates have lost four straight games and are 10 games behind their 2009 pace, in which they finished 62-99.

Maholm only lasted 3 1-3 innings and allowed eight runs on nine hits. Pittsburgh’s only runs came on an RBI double by Pedro Alvarez(notes) and RBI groundout by Ryan Doumit(notes).

“Not being able to get ahead, not throwing my sinker if I can,” Maholm said. “It goes back to failure to do that and establish down and away, not missing over the middle, and getting into bad counts. I know what it is, I need to fix it. It’s going to be fixed next time and this is the most frustrating thing to have one or two good ones then these games keep coming around. It’s just frustrating.”

Maholm had been 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Cubs this season.

Zambrano’s two-run home run in the fifth gave the Cubs a 11-0 lead. It was Zambrano’s 21st career home run, extending the club record for most home runs as a pitcher. It was his first home run since Aug. 25, 2009.

Ramirez drove in two more runs on a double down the left-field line.

Notes: The Cubs honored 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson in a pregame ceremony. … At .313 Castro has the fifth best batting average in the NL. … The Cubs started a nine-game, 10-day homestand.

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