Series: Game 1 of 4

Chi Cubs leads 1-0 (as of 7/24)

Game 1: Thursday, July 24
Chi Cubs6
Game 2: Friday, July 25
Chi Cubs2
Game 3: Saturday, July 26
in 12
Chi Cubs2
Game 4: Sunday, July 27
Chi Cubs9

Marlins 3

(53-49, 24-26 away)

Cubs 6

(60-42, 38-12 home)

    8:05 PM ET, July 24, 2008

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 002000010 3 8 0
    CHC 00104100 - 6 8 1

    W: C. Zambrano (11-4)

    L: S. Olsen (6-5)

    S: C. Marmol (4)

    Zambrano helps Cubs stop Marlins, who have lost three of four

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Despite a number of key injuries, manager Lou Piniella and the Chicago Cubs have found a way to stay on top of the NL Central.

    Carlos Zambrano pitched seven solid innings and the Cubs snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Florida Marlins with a 6-3 victory Thursday night.

    First to 60

    The Cubs became the first NL team to win 60 games this year, but reaching that milestone isn't necessarily a good omen. The last time the first NL team to 60 wins went on to win the World Series was 1995, when the Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians.

    1st NL Team to 60 Wins,
    Since 2000
    Year Team Result
    2008 Cubs ?
    2007 Mets/D-backs DNQ/L, NLCS
    2006 Mets L, NLCS
    2005 Cardinals L, NLCS
    2004 Cardinals L, World Series
    2003 Braves L, NLDS
    2002 Braves L, NLDS
    2001 Cubs/Dodgers Both DNQ
    2000 Braves L, NLDS

    After a 2-4 road trip, the Cubs got home runs from Henry Blanco and Ronny Cedeno and a two-run double from Aramis Ramirez to improve to 38-12 at Wrigley Field.

    "I don't know want to use the word remarkable, but that's what comes to mind," Piniella said. "Of the fact that we haven't been to where we want to go for a long time everybody has gotten on our bandwagon but it hasn't been easy. It's been a complete struggle if you want to know the truth.

    Carlos Marmol, subbing for closer Kerry Wood who was placed on the 15-day disabled before the game, got four outs for his fourth save but it wasn't smooth. He threw 38 pitches in the ninth and loaded the bases, finally ending it by striking out Wes Helms on a 3-2 pitch.

    Hanley Ramirez homered for the Marlins, who have lost three of four overall and lost to the Cubs for the first time since April 25, 2006.

    Zambrano (11-4), who drove in a run with a double, held the Marlins to two runs and five hits, striking out six and hitting a batter.

    "What are the strengths of this club? We have darn good starting pitching. They give us a chance to win all games all the time," Piniella said.

    And the manager still has confidence in Marmol.

    "He's a little too excited. He just needs to calm down a little bit, make his pitches, trust his pitches, he's got good stuff," Piniella said.

    Trailing 2-1, the Cubs got to Florida starter Scott Olsen (6-5) in the fifth inning. Mark DeRosa drew a leadoff walk and Blanco singled. One out later, Zambrano ripped an RBI double down the left-field line to score DeRosa and tie the game at 2.

    With first base open, the Marlins elected to walk Alfonso Soriano to load the bases. Olsen got Ryan Theriot to hit a comebacker and he forced Blanco at home. But Olsen walked Derrek Lee on a 3-2 pitch to make it 3-2.

    With the crowd still on its feet, Aramis Ramirez followed with a double over the head of right fielder Luis Gonzalez, who took a bad route on the ball. Soriano and Theriot scored to put the Cubs up 5-2, but Lee was thrown out at the plate.

    "I thought I executed my pitch," Olsen said. "Apparently not, but it's not my decision. The one to Lee, it is what it is. It was close. It's going to go either way."

    Blanco hit a solo homer with two outs in the sixth.

    The Marlins threatened in the eighth. Cubs reliever Bob Howry came in with the bases loaded and no outs and got Cody Ross to fly out to shallow right.

    "We had some opportunities. We weren't able to put a crooked number up in the eighth or the ninth inning and they put up a big number in the ninth," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

    Luis Gonzalez then drove the ball to right, but DeRosa made a spectacular diving catch. Alfredo Amezaga tagged up at third to cut the lead to 6-3. Marmol got the final out of the inning, by striking out Josh Willingham looking.

    DeRosa got some positioning help from center fielder Reed Johnson before the catch.

    "He gave me a single like he was falling asleep, but I read it to move over a couple of steps and it worked," DeRosa said.

    After Olsen singled in the third, Ramirez hit his 24th homer into the bleachers in left.

    Olsen allowed six runs and seven hits. He walked three and had three strikeouts.

    Chicago general manager Jim Hendry hopes Wood can return Tuesday at Milwaukee when he is eligible to be activated. He was put on the DL retroactive to July 14 with a blister on his pitching hand.

    Cedeno led off the third with his second homer of the season.

    Game notes

    Wood went on the DL for the 12th time in his 10-year career. ... Marlins 2B Dan Uggla was not in the lineup but pinch-hit in the ninth. ... Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome and C Geovany Soto had the night off. ... Thursday night's attendance was 41,482 and the Cubs surpassed the 2 million mark, the fastest they reached that figure in club history.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press