Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Heading for 3rd, chasing history

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Is it time to start batting Carlos Zambrano higher in the order?

OK, I'll get off that one. But it's certainly time to stop wondering where his hitting went this season after an 0-for-9, five-strikeout start to his season.

``I told him a week ago, `You're not swinging the bat like you were last year,' '' manager Lou Piniella said. ``He said, `It's early.' ''

Apparently, it's not early anymore for Zambrano, who singled in the third, doubled off the yellow strip at the top of the wall in right-center in the fifth and homered just over the wall in left in the seventh during the Cubs' 11-3 rout of Arizona tonight.

Oh, yeah, he also pitched seven good-enough innings for a quality start. Not that he felt like leaving after 111 pitches and a triple to go for history.

Zambrano, who grounded out in the fourth, said he would have welcomed an opportunity to stay in the game and go for the cycle.

``Yeah, why not?'' he said. ``Sometimes it's good to break some records and be in the history books.''

That certainly would have done it.

According to quick, late glance at the all-time cycle list, it appeared no pitchers had pulled off the rare feat.

According to the only one who did it in the same game he pitched at all was actually a Cub on July 28, 1888 (actually, he would have been a White Stocking back then): Jimmy Ryan.

Ryan was an outfielder who hit for the cycle that day and also pitched in Chicago's 21-17 win over Detroit.

Zambrano assured reporters he would have kept running to third if he'd gotten a fourth hit to find grass fair and roll.

``I run pretty good,'' he said.

And as for that comment from Piniella last week?

``Last year I started something like 0 for 10,'' he said, ``and I ended the year winning the Cy Young - I mean, the Silver Slugger. No pressure at all.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on April 29, 2009 12:17 AM.

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