Cubs

LIVE: Cubs-Padres still scoreless at Wrigley

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LIVE: Cubs-Padres still scoreless at Wrigley

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 12:00 PM

Associated Press

Carlos Zambrano has been far from stellar this season, but he still has not lost since June.

The right-hander looks to continue his undefeated run when the Chicago Cubs open a three-game set with the San Diego Padres on Monday night at Wrigley Field.

While Zambrano (2-0, 6.11 ERA) has allowed 12 runs over 17 2-3 innings in his three starts, he's received six runs of support in each of the last two. He gave up five runs in 5 2-3 innings but helped his cause with a solo homer in Chicago's 9-5 win at Houston on Wednesday.

"There are a lot of reasons you win and lose ball games, so there were more reasons for us to win because the club (picks) up Z," manager Mike Quade said.

The three-time All-Star has fared well since being put on the suspended list for a dugout tirade during a loss to the White Sox on June 25, which was also the last time he lost a decision. After a brief stint in the bullpen upon his return, Zambrano is 10-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 14 starts.

Zambrano has rarely had a problem with the Padres, going 7-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 12 starts. He went 1-0 in two starts versus San Diego in 2010, allowing one run over 13 innings.

The Cubs (7-8) hope Zambrano will put them in position to bounce back from Sunday's 9-5 loss at Colorado to conclude a 4-5 trip. Chicago has alternated wins and losses in its last six games.

"We've got some things to clean up, for sure," manager Mike Quade said. "But as far as effort - our guys are playing and getting after it. I'm very optimistic about this club getting better."

Starlin Castro went 7 for 9 with four RBIs in the weekend's last two games to raise his average to .418. The 21-year-old shortstop will try to perform better against the Padres than he did as a rookie last season, when he hit .214 with seven strikeouts in 28 at-bats versus San Diego.

Teammate Marlon Byrd is 1 for 19 over the last four games, but batted .348 in his last six against the Padres in 2010.

The Padres (7-8) will try for a fifth straight win at Wrigley after sweeping a four-game set there Aug. 16-19.

San Diego improved to 4-3 on the road this season Sunday, winning 8-6 to salvage a split of a four-game set in Houston.

Jorge Cantu had a home run and three RBIs and catcher Nick Hundley also homered to help the Padres score more than four runs for only the second time in seven games. Five of San Diego's seven wins have come by either one or two runs.

"I don't know what it is, maybe we were playing a big uphill battle," said closer Heath Bell, who converted his 38th straight save Sunday. "We've got to fight and scratch and claw for every win right now."

Hundley is batting .348 this season, but .115 in eight career games versus Chicago.

Padres' opening day starter Tim Stauffer (0-1, 4.80) takes the mound after he allowed two runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The right-hander has lost both of his career starts against the Cubs - in 2005 and 2010 - but did not receive a single run of support in either outing.

Chicago's series against the Rockies began a stretch of 19 straight games against NL West opponents.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

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NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

Ozzie Guillen explains why he thinks Manny Machado is a better fit for the Cubs than the White Sox. Plus, Guillen and Marlon Byrd react to 19-year-old Juan Soto hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Nationals.

Later in the show the guys debate who had the better rants in front of the media: Guillen or Byrd?

Finally, Byrd opens up about his PED suspensions, relates to the guys caught using PEDs now and Guillen offers up a solution to rid baseball of PEDs entirely.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: