Cubs stop Bonds, losing streak
By Bruce Miles
Daily Herald Sports Writer
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO — The smell of success was extra sweet for manager Dusty Baker and the Cubs after Wednesday night’s 8-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Yes, the Cubs held Giants slugger Barry Bonds without a home run for the second straight night, keeping him at 713 for his career and 1 behind Babe Ruth for second place all time.
More important, the Cubs snapped an eight-game losing streak, during which they had scored 9 runs.
“It’s good to get that skunk off the boat because, I tell you, it was getting ridiculous,” said Baker, whose club is 15-18. “I should be happy, but I guess I’m more relieved than happy. We needed that one badly, real bad.”
The Cubs scored more than 3 runs in a game for the first time since April 28, when they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 6-2.
Keeping Bonds and the Giants at bay by the Bay was starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who recorded his first victory of the season after 2 losses and 4 no-decisions.
Zambrano walked Bonds in the first inning. He got him on a routine flyout to center in the third. In the fifth, Zambrano got Bonds looking at a nasty hard sinker, and in the eighth Bonds popped out.
“I was throwing hard today, and I was relaxed against him,” said Zambrano, whose fastball was clocked in the mid-90s (mph) for most of the night. “That was the key — being relaxed on the mound.”
Baker revamped his lineup. He moved shortstop Ronny Cedeno into the leadoff spot and dropped Juan Pierre from No. 1 to No. 2. It seemed to work. Cedeno was 1-for-5 with a run scored, and Pierre was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
“Temporarily,” Baker said. “We’ll see. We’ll take it. We’ll take anything right now.”
The big hitter was right fielder Jacque Jones, who hit a 2-run homer in the second, a single in the fifth and a 2-run double in the sixth, when the Cubs batted around and scored 5 runs.
“That was the most runs we scored, it seemed, in a month,” Baker said.
Zambrano, who threw 110 pitches over 8 innings, struggled to find his command early. He threw 20 pitches in the first inning, when the Giants tied the game at 1-1. Zambrano gave up a leadoff walk to Kevin Frandsen in the second before Mike Matheny doubled. But Zambrano worked out of trouble and cruised from there.
“I think I was too rushed in that first inning; I was trying to do too much,” Zambrano said. “I relaxed. My pitches were in command today, and my sinker was good today. In the third inning and fourth inning, I started using it.”