Carlos Zambrano won his 10th game Tuesday night in the Cubs' 3-1 victory over Washington, giving himself a fighting chance to make the National League All-Star team for next week's game.
Zambrano said he voted for himself 25 times on baseball's Internet ballot to choose the final NL player for the All-Star Game, even though he conceded on Monday that San Diego's Chris Young deserves the spot.
"He deserves it, but I want to go," Zambrano said. "I'm not cheating myself. I have to vote for myself."
Of course, Zambrano also gets a $25,000 bonus if he makes the team.
"That's the most important thing," he said with a grin.
The Cubs had plenty to smile about Tuesday after moving to 5 1/2 games of Milwaukee with their 10th victory in their last 11 games.
Zambrano (10-6) allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out eight in a 121-pitch outing. Zambrano is 5-1 with a 1.42 ERA and 51 strikeouts after declaring a "new season" for himself June 6 in Milwaukee.
The Cubs are 20-9 since June 3 with the best record in baseball over that span, which began the day after manager Lou Piniella's dirt-kicking episode.
"I don't know anything about that," Piniella said. "I do know we're playing good, aggressive baseball and it's translating into wins for us. The rest of it, if you do those things you should win with a little more consistency, and we have been."
Cliff Floyd's two-run single in the third was the decisive blow, while Bob Howry struck out the only two men he faced in the ninth for his third save.
"I definitely see a lot more confidence," Floyd said. "We don't start going, 'Oh, here we go again,' when we get down or something happens that doesn't go our way. For me, that's huge because when you start to wonder if you're going to get outs, or wonder if you're going to get a hit in key situations, then you find yourself hoping.
"And right now, we're not hoping. We're going out there executing, and everything is OK. We still have a long way to go. But, hopefully, we finish this first half off great and we can enjoy those three days off [for the All-Star break]."
The Cubs got off to a quick start again with Alfonso Soriano singling off Tim Redding to lead off the first and stealing second. He then scored on Ryan Theriot's single to right.
Floyd came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the third and promptly delivered a two-run single to increase his average with runners in scoring position to .385.
"When you're doing the little things and are feeling good about yourself, things usually turn out OK," he said.
Floyd appears more relaxed since his father, Cornelius, was allowed to leave his hospital bed Friday to make a trip to Wrigley Field. The elder Floyd is recovering from heart surgery and kidney problems, but Cliff said the trip to Wrigley has done wonders for his dad's mental outlook.
While Cliff Floyd puts on a happy exterior, the constant worrying about his dad's health has taken a toll on him.
"We all admire the way he has handled it," general manager Jim Hendry said. "Knowing Cliff from his high school days at Thornwood, I know how close a relationship he has with his father. You can see the concern in Cliff's face every day. But he's not bringing it into the clubhouse. He's still staying upbeat and focusing on his job."
Like Floyd, the Cubs are focusing on winning, ignoring all the distractions that come with the territory.
Funny how much things can change in one month's time.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times