Zambrano has strong start in Cubs win
Had he pitched this way from the start, Carlos Zambrano might not have gone to the bullpen. Not that he was in the mood to look back.
"I always believe there are bad moments and good moments,'' Zambrano said. "You have to take advantage of a good moment.''
The Cubs did just that after dropping six of nine and falling 12-0 Saturday in a loss that left fans peppering them with boos.
They matched a season-high with 18 hits after collecting two on Saturday, and they took advantage of some defensive lapses, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings and chasing Joe Saunders (5-8) in a four-run third that made it 8-0.
Zambrano (3-5) had one of his better outings this season.
He allowed one run and eight hits while striking out seven and walking one in his fourth start since his return from the bullpen. He also delivered two hits, including an RBI single in the third, as the Cubs avoided the weekend sweep.
"My sinker was good,'' Zambrano said. "I was able to command both sides of the plate.''
The Cubs backed him with one of their best performances at the plate.
Lee had a sacrifice fly in the second, a two-run, bases-loaded double in the third and added an RBI single in the fifth, sending the Angels to their third road loss in 15 games.
Soto hit the first pitch of the third into the left-field bleachers for his eighth homer and Zambrano made it 6-0 when he drove in Starlin Castro with a one-out single.
The Cubs added to their lead after another misplay by shortstop Brandon Wood, who mishandled Jeff Baker's hopper with two out. That loaded the bases for Lee, who capped the burst by lining a double to make it 8-0 and chase Saunders.
The left-hander simply got battered, allowing nine hits while throwing 84 pitches in 2 2-3 innings in a rare rough outing away from home.
"I feel like I had great stuff,'' said Saunders, who came in with a 4-1 road record. "I got a lot of ground balls, there just seemed to be a constant hole on that left side of the infield. Perfectly placed ground balls, the defense just wasn't there for me today, but that's going to happen.''
In the second, Wood pitched in.
He dropped the ball after fielding Ryan Theriot's leadoff single behind second and made a questionable decision on Marlon Byrd's one-out grounder. Rather than get the easy out at first, Wood appeared to double clutch as he went to third and Theriot beat the throw.
"I thought we had him over there,'' said Wood, who has 36 starts at third base and four at shortstop. "Looking back on it, I may just want to take the safe play and go to first but I think that's one of the things, being away from short, you really need to focus on and make those plays in your mind before they happen.''
Baker then doubled to right, and Lee followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
"Hopefully, we can build some momentum off this,'' Soto said.
NOTES: Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he "would think'' 3B Aramis Ramirez will be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible on Wednesday. Ramirez, out with an ailing left thumb, is rehabbing with Class A Peoria. ... Cubs radio announcer Ron Santo will miss the three-game trip to Seattle that starts Tuesday and plans to cut back his travel schedule to the "Midwest only'' next season. A diabetic, Santo fell ill during the previous trip, going to the hospital in Pittsburgh and coming home from Milwaukee after feeling sick again. ... Angels manager Mike Scioscia said SS Erick Aybar (hyperextended left knee) had "a good workout'' on Saturday, taking ground balls and running in the outfield, and will be reevaluated on Monday.