Zambrano set to return for Cubs against rival Cardinals

Updated: July 3, 2008

Jerry Lai/US Presswire

Carlos Zambrano will pitch for the Cubs on Friday after missing two starts with a strained right shoulder.

WEEKEND PREVIEW

Two rivalry matchups highlight this weekend's slate of games. One matchup is a battle for first place and, surprisingly, the other isn't.

"SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL"

Red Sox at Yankees, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Cubs and Cardinals will do battle for three games, with the Cubs leading the Cardinals by 2½ games in the National League Central.

In the American League, meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox will play the final three games of a four-game set. It's the first time since 1997 that the longtime rivals have met after Memorial Day with neither team in first place. The Red Sox won the first game of the series on Thursday, pushing the Yankees eight games behind the Rays in the AL East.

Friday

Josh BeckettRed Sox (Josh Beckett) at Yankees (Darrell Rasner), 1:05 p.m. ET
Beckett has won both of his starts against the Yankees this season, and is 6-3 in his career vs. the Yankees in the regular season. He has won three of his five career starts at Yankee Stadium, not including the five-hit shutout he threw in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series while with the Marlins. Rasner is heading in the wrong direction. After winning his first three starts of the season, Rasner is 1-6 with a 5.68 ERA in his last seven starts.

Carlos ZambranoCubs (Carlos Zambrano) at Cardinals (Braden Looper), 8:15 p.m. ET
The Cubs get Zambrano back just in time. Chicago has lost six of its past eight games. Zambrano has not pitched since June 18, missing his last two starts with a strained right shoulder. It also helps that he has owned the Cardinals since 2005, going 7-0 with a 1.48 ERA over 73 innings pitched. Looper will look to win his 10th game of the season.

Complete list of pitching probables for Friday's games

Saturday

Kyle LohseCubs (Ted Lilly) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse), 3:55 p.m. ET
Lilly is one win away from his sixth consecutive season with double-digit victories. He hasn't lost since June 4, going 4-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his past five starts. But you have to go back another month to find the last time Lohse lost. Lohse hasn't suffered a defeat since May 8, going 7-0 over his past 10 starts. His worst start of the season, however, was against the Cubs, when he allowed eight runs in a loss on May 3.

John LackeyBlue Jays (Roy Halladay) at Angels (John Lackey), 9:05 p.m. ET
It's been an up-and-down season for Halladay, who leads the majors with six complete games. But he's also allowed at least four runs in a game eight times this season. The American League West-leading Angels will send the red-hot Lackey to the hill. Lackey has allowed one earned run or less in seven of his nine starts and no more than three runs in any start this season. Of his nine starts, two have already been against the Blue Jays (1-0, 1.20 ERA).

Complete list of pitching probables for Saturday's games

Sunday

Rich HardenA's (Rich Harden) at White Sox (John Danks), 2:05 p.m. ET
Harden has yet to lose this season, as he has five wins and seven no-decisions in his 12 starts. His ERA has been below 3.00 since early May and he has allowed a total of three earned runs in his past four starts. Danks will go for the White Sox. He's allowed only one earned run in two career starts against the A's.

Tim WakefieldRed Sox (Tim Wakefield) at Yankees (Joba Chamberlain), 8:05 p.m. ET
The weekend will come to a close with the fourth and final game of the Red Sox-Yankees series. Wakefield is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his big league career. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his past seven starts while allowing three earned runs or less, one shy of the longest streak in his career. Chamberlain has yet to get a decision in four home starts.

Complete list of pitching probables for Sunday's games

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 2 | July 1 | June 30 | June 29 | June 26 | June 25


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BBTN ON THE AIR: FRIDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Fernando Vina, Buster Olney
12 a.m. ET
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Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Fernando Vina, Buster Olney

BBTN ON THE AIR: SATURDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
9:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Fernando Vina, Buster Olney
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Fernando Vina, Buster Olney

BBTN ON THE AIR: SUNDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
12:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Steve Phillips, John Kruk
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Steve Phillips, John Kruk, Eric Young, Buster Olney

BBTN MINUTE: CUBS TO GET BIG Z BACK

THURSDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Jon LesterJon Lester tossed a complete game, five-hit shutout in the Red Sox's 7-0 win over the Yankees. The lefty struck out eight and walked two, and is now unbeaten in his past seven starts.
BAD
Nick SwisherNick Swisher went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against his former team in the White Sox's 3-2 loss to the A's. One of his three strikeouts came in the bottom of the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first base.
UGLY
Salomon Torres• Three relievers, including Salomon Torres, allowed a combined six hits in the bottom of the ninth as the Diamondbacks rallied from five runs behind to defeat the Brewers 6-5.

"TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME"

Ballgame It's the 100th anniversary of baseball's most famous tune, and "Baseball Tonight" has asked nine popular musical artists to record a rendition of the song to be used in a battle of the bands. Take a listen and vote on your favorite one. The top three vote-getters will be announced on July 6.

• Latest video: REO Speedwagon

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF FRIDAY'S GAMES

Tristan Cockcroft examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Friday's schedule.

Tristan also looks at current injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Friday's games. Daily Notes

NEWS AND NOTES

Roy Oswalt • Astros manager Cecil Cooper announced on Thursday that right-hander Roy Oswalt will miss his next scheduled start, on Saturday against the Braves. Oswalt strained his left hip in Houston's 4-1 win over the Dodgers on Monday. Cooper said Oswalt will return to the rotation sometime next week.

Andy Phillips • The Reds claimed infielder-outfielder Andy Phillips off waivers from the Mets and optioned right-hander Daryl Thompson to Triple-A Louisville. Phillips played in 15 games for the Reds before the Mets claimed him off waivers on June 25.