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Zambrano solid on mound, plate in win
How windy was it Wednesday night during the Cubs' 12-3 victory over Cincinnati at Wrigley Field?
So windy the Cubs took down the ceremonial flags for Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo, along with the center-field pennants signifying the National League's divisional standings.
So windy Adam Dunn hit a Sheffield Avenue home run and watched 15 balls get thrown back from the streets and right-field bleachers.
And so windy a second-inning fly ball dropped on the warning track only a few feet away from left fielder Mark DeRosa before bouncing up and over the 111/2-foot wall for a ground-rule double.
"At the end of the day it's like playing Little League," DeRosa said. "Just catch the ball, hit your cutoff man and everything will take care of itself."
The Cubs took care of things early while winning for the eighth time in 10 games, giving starter Carlos Zambrano the opportunity to work on his hitting stroke.
"I've been getting on 'Z' a lot about his hitting," manager Lou Piniella said. "I told him he was a batting-practice hitter."
One day after smoking a batting-practice pitch into the upper part of the center-field bleachers, the switch-hitting Zambrano tied a career high with three hits—one batting left-handed and two right-handed—while improving to 2-1 with seven innings of two-run ball.
"Lou was telling me [Tuesday], 'When are you going to get a hit?' " said Zambrano, who lifted his average from .000 to .250.
After scoring four runs in the first inning, the Cubs knocked Reds starter Josh Fogg out of the game during a six-run third, pouring it on against former manager Dusty Baker's pitching staff for the second straight day.
Derrek Lee went 3-for-4 and homered for the sixth time, matching his first-half total for 2007. DeRosa, Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto added two-run doubles as the Cubs' offense appeared to be breaking out of its early-season rut.
With wind gusts up to 20 m.p.h. blowing straight out, the Cubs were ready for anything, except seeing an impromptu display from Cubs fans who threw 15 balls on the field after Dunn's home run onto Sheffield.
"I thought it was hilarious," Ryan Theriot said. "I thought it was awesome. I actually was hoping it would kind of continue."
The afternoon began with the expected news that Alfonso Soriano would miss the next two weeks with the calf injury he suffered Tuesday night at Wrigley, leaving the Cubs without their leadoff man and starting left fielder.
"Any time you lose one of your top players, it's not good," Piniella said. "But the team has to step up and make up for the loss."
The Cubs did just that, pounding out 13 hits—their third straight game in double digits since a three-hit effort Saturday against Philadelphia. Lee has homered in his last four games at Wrigley and is hitting .571 with three homers in his last five games.
"He's zoned in," Piniella said. "The ball is jumping off his bat."