Just when it seemed Matt Cain could do no wrong, the Chicago Cubs came up with the kind of breakout innings that have landed them right...
CHICAGO — Just when it seemed Matt Cain could do no wrong, the Chicago Cubs came up with the kind of breakout innings that have landed them right back in the NL Central chase.
Carlos Zambrano pitched five shutout innings to become the National League’s first 12-game winner, Koyie Hill drove in a career-high five runs on a pair of doubles and the Cubs continued their mid-summer surge by beating San Francisco 12-1 Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
“I will try to win 20 games. After 16, after 17, it’s good for a pitcher,” Zambrano said. “I just want to help this team to go to the playoffs.”
Zambrano (12-7) allowed two hits and the Cubs gave him more than enough offense in their fifth win in six games since the All-Star break. The Cubs cut division-leading Milwaukee’s lead to 3 ½ games.
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Barry Bonds was held out of San Francisco’s starting lineup for the third straight day to rest his sore legs, but it might not have mattered.
“Nobody likes to face Bonds,” Zambrano said. “He’s a good hitter. Look at his numbers. Nobody wants to face that.”
But Bonds, swarmed by about 10 security personnel as he made his difficult exit from Wrigley Field through a thick crowd, is expected to start today’s series finale.
The Giants could use their star player.
“We didn’t bring any game today,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cain (3-11), San Francisco’s hard-luck right-hander, didn’t allow a hit until Cliff Floyd’s two-out single started Chicago’s four-run fourth. Zambrano improved to 7-2 in his nine starts since fighting with then-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on June 1.
Hill started behind the plate a day after new catcher Jason Kendall struggled in his Cubs debut and was booed several times after being acquired in a Monday trade with Oakland.
“Everybody has been doing their job,” Hill said. “This team never feels like it is out of a game. We could have been down 9-0 and we would have felt like we were going to come back or had a chance at coming back and winning.”