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Zambrano outpitches Carpenter; Cubs secure four-game sweep

CHICAGO (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano's pledge to himself and his
teammates is a simple one. Pitch and play like you've still got a
chance.

It would take one of the great miracles in baseball history to
get the Chicago Cubs to the postseason. But they have played better
ball in the last week and on Sunday completed a rare four-game
sweep of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals behind Zambrano.

"I am one of the guys that thinks you never have to give up,"
Zambrano said after outpitching Chris Carpenter to win his ninth
straight decision as the Cubs beat the Cards 6-3.

"When you have that 'X' that says you're eliminated, then you
give up. Not anybody in the league, not Kansas City, not
Pittsburgh, has that 'X' that says they are eliminated," Zambrano
said.

"We're still fighting for something. We still have a chance to
do a lot of things."

After getting swept, the Cardinals improved their infield,
acquiring second baseman Ronnie Belliard from Cleveland for Hector Luna in the latest move by the underachieving Indians.

Belliard, an All-Star in 2004, gives the NL Central-leading
Cardinals a steady, everyday second baseman for the stretch run.
St. Louis has used Aaron Miles and Luna at second this season, but
neither has been particularly productive at the plate.

"Sometimes you have to seize the moment," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa said. "This is our chance to win."

The Cubs (43-61) own their first four-game winning streak since
capturing five straight last July.

And Chicago's first four-game sweep of the Cardinals at Wrigley
Field since 1972 left the Cardinals 0-7 this season at the Cubs'
home park. The Cubs also swept a three-game home series from the
Cards in early April.

"That's the million dollar question. Why can't we do this all
year long?" said second baseman Todd Walker, whose name has been
tossed around in trade rumors.

"If this was the last game for any of us, at least we went out
on a good note," he said.

Zambrano (12-3), who has not lost since May 31, allowed five
hits, five walks and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings,
facing a Cardinals lineup that didn't start Albert Pujols. He was a
late scratch with a hyperextended right elbow, but entered the game
as pinch-hitter in the seventh.

Carpenter (10-5) lasted just four innings -- his shortest start
of the season -- and gave up all five of his runs in the first two
innings on a muggy day. He yielded a leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno
in the second and six hits.

"I felt fine, I just didn't pitch real well," Carpenter said.
"I made a lot of bad pitches and left the ball in the middle of
the plate."

He said it's obvious that despite their overall 58-46 record,
the Cardinals have not played well against the Cubs this season.

"You look at the games we played. We haven't pitched well, we
made some defensive mistakes and haven't gotten any big hits," he
said.

Trailing 5-0, St. Louis broke through in the fifth when it
loaded the bases for a second time in the game as Aaron Miles
opened with the Cardinals' second hit and pitcher Jason Marquis hit
a pinch-hit double. Zambrano walked Chris Duncan to load the bases
and the Cardinals scored on Scott Rolen's fielder's choice grounder
to third. Zambrano then fanned Jim Edmonds and pumped his fist.

In the sixth, Zambrano gave up a single to Scott Spiezio, threw
one wild pitch and then another on ball four to John Rodriguez
before Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly.

Miles followed with an infield single to short and Rodriguez
sprained his right ankle sliding into second, even though the throw
went to first base and not second. He was helped off the field and
is day-to-day. Pinch-hitter Juan Encarnacion then grounded into a
double play.

Chicago made it 6-2 in the seventh on pinch-hitter John Mabry's
RBI single off Adam Wainwright.

Juan Pierre walked leading off the Cubs' first, went to third on
Aramis Ramirez's one-out single and scored on Phil Nevin's
sacrifice fly. Jacque Jones then delivered an opposite-field,
two-out double for a 2-0 lead.

Cedeno, in a 19-for-122 slump (.156) since June 15, hit his
third homer of the season to start the second. Henry Blanco and
Zambrano followed with singles and moved up on Pierre's sacrifice.

When Todd Walker hit a grounder to short, David Eckstein threw
home and catcher Molina's tag appeared to get Blanco at the plate,
but umpire Marvin Hudson ruled him safe, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead
and bringing La Russa out for an argument. Ramirez then delivered
an RBI single to right.

Carpenter had won four straight decisions entering the game.

The Cardinals made it 6-3 in the ninth on an RBI single by Rolen
after Duncan's triple.

Game notes
Zambrano finished 6-0 in July and became the first Cubs
pitcher to win six games in a month since Rick Reuschel won seven
in August of 1979. ... The Cubs' four-game winning streak is their
longest this season. ... It was Carpenter's first loss in seven
career starts at Wrigley Field. He had been 4-0 at the Cubs' home
park and 6-1 overall against them. ... The series attendance was
162,101, a four-game series record at Wrigley Field.