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Zambrano: Two hits in eight innings

5/13/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano came up big again for the
Chicago Cubs.

The right-hander allowed two hits over eight innings, and the
Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Thursday to avoid being swept
for the first time this season.

"It was a very important game for us," Zambrano said.
"Everybody here is ace. Everybody did a little bit to win the
game."

The Cubs capitalized on Hideo Nomo's lack of control by turning
three consecutive walks and four hits into six runs in the second
inning.

"I haven't seen Nomo wild like he was today," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said. "We got to take advantage because it doesn't
happen very often."

As much as Nomo struggled, Zambrano dominated.

Zambrano (4-1) has given up just one unearned run in his last 24
innings. He pitched a two-hitter against Colorado last Friday.

"I feel good," he said. "Everything is working. I'm more
comfortable, more experienced, I know the league better. I just go
out there and have fun."

Zambrano gave up an unearned run in the seventh inning and
struck out 11, walked two and hit two batters. The Dodgers' hits
came on Adrian Beltre's infield single in the second and Shawn
Green's double with two outs in the sixth.

"He stayed focused and concentrated the entire game, which
isn't easy with a 6-0 lead," Baker said.

Los Angeles added two runs in the ninth off Joe Borowski before
LaTroy Hawkins entered with runners on first and third with two
outs and got Cesar Izturis to fly to center for his second save.

Nomo (3-4) gave up six runs on three hits in 1 1-3 innings,
walked three and struck out one.

"His command faltered in the second inning and that was the big
issue," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "When you're facing the
likes of a Carlos Zambrano, to give them six runs in one inning is
certainly a mountain to have to climb. And more times than not,
you're not going to."

Nomo retired the Cubs in order in the first, then things went
downhill. He gave up a leadoff single to Aramis Ramirez, followed
by three consecutive walks. Nomo had an 0-2 count against Ramon
Martinez before walking him on a 3-2 pitch to force in Ramirez.
Paul Bako's bases-loaded RBI single gave Chicago a 2-0 lead.

Zambrano forced Bako at second base with a grounder to score
Derrek Lee. Tom Goodwin's RBI single chased Nomo and made it 4-0.

"I was just trying to stay aggressive. I just couldn't hold
them off," Nomo said. "But I don't really think I have a problem
with mechanics. All I can do is keep working hard and try to do the
best I can."

Pregame anthem singer Jose Lima replaced Nomo and retired Jose
Macias before giving up a two-out, two-run double to Moises Alou.
Ramirez struck out to end the inning.

Sammy Sosa took the day off, something Baker wants him to do
occasionally.

"I told him how it made Barry (Bonds) better in San
Francisco," Baker said.

The Dodgers scored in the seventh when Juan Encarncion reached
on third baseman Ramirez's throwing error, advanced to second on a
hit batter and third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly
by pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz.

Todd Hollandsworth grounded into a force play in the ninth
inning for a 7-1 lead.

Game notes
Dodgers 2B Alex Cora left the game before the top of the
fifth with a contusion to his right elbow after being hit by
Zambrano. He's day to day. ... Nomo is 0-3 with a 12.71 ERA in day
games this season. ... Macias, who started in place of 2B Todd
Walker, had three hits. ... Beltre extended his hitting streak to
16 games, one short of his career high. ... The Cubs are 16-1 in
games where they score four or more runs. ... Lima sang "God Bless
America" and the national anthem before the game. He is lead
singer of his own band, which has an album out and plays in clubs
in the United States and Dominican Republic.