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 vs. Nationals makes it obvious: Jake Arrieta is no Max Scherzer

Cubs vs. Nationals makes it obvious: Jake Arrieta is no Max Scherzer

WASHINGTON — Super-agent Scott Boras drove the Max Scherzer comparisons through the media, trying to frame Jake Arrieta’s Cy Young Award pedigree and pitching odometer against that seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Every inning in each Arrieta start shouldn’t be viewed like a stock ticker, but it became the impossible-to-miss backdrop on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, where Scherzer stared down the Cubs through his blue and brown eyes and dominated in a 6-1 game that didn’t have that same October energy.

Where Scherzer is headed toward his fifth straight All-Star selection, the Cubs can only guess what they will get out of Arrieta from one start to the next, which makes you wonder: How many teams would commit five or six years to an over-30 pitcher like that?

Coming off probably the team’s best win of the season the night before — and a strong last start at Marlins Park where he felt “really close” to where he wanted to be — Arrieta walked off the mound with no outs and two runners on in the fifth inning.

The Nationals ran wild, putting pressure on the Cubs and stealing seven bases off Arrieta and catcher Miguel Montero. Arrieta’s control vanished, walking six batters and throwing a wild pitch. The defense collapsed, with second baseman Tommy La Stella leading Anthony Rizzo off first base with one throw and Montero chucking another ball into left field.

Halfway through his platform season, Arrieta is 7-6 with a 4.67 ERA after giving up six runs (five earned) and losing this marquee matchup against Scherzer and the first-place Nationals (46-31).

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The Cubs (39-38) felt the whiplash effect from Scherzer’s violent delivery, the perfect game gone when he drilled leadoff guy Rizzo with a 95-mph fastball and the no-hitter over in the first inning when Kris Bryant knocked an RBI triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.

None of it rattled Scherzer (9-5, 2.06 ERA), who gave up one more hit and zero walks across six innings. This is the third-fastest pitcher in major-league history to reach 2,000 strikeouts, a favorite to win his third Cy Young Award this year and the Game 1 starter the Cubs would face if they make it back to Washington for a first-round playoff series.

“It starts with his delivery and deception,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I think there’s a lot of intimidation, based on how he just delivers the baseball and the angle that he throws from, the ability to ride a fastball. I think the big thing, too, is the changeup has gotten devastatingly good.

“He’s an uncomfortable at-bat, just based on the way he winds up and throws the baseball. And then the stuff just moves so darn much. It’s a unique combination of factors that he has. He’s so strong and he pitches so deeply into games — and he does it consistently well for years. He’s just a different animal.”

That makes the Max comparison so untenable for Arrieta, who lost to Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers during his final start for the Baltimore Orioles on June 17, 2013. Arrieta immediately got shipped down to Triple-A Norfolk and traded to the Cubs 15 days later in a deal that would change baseball history forever.

Boras is right when he calls that the defining struggle of Arrieta’s career and says it took “World Series cojones” to handle that pressure. But just like Arrieta’s contract year, the Cubs are now in the great unknown.

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

WASHINGTON — Within a matter of days last November, the Cubs won a staggering World Series for the first time in 108 years and Donald Trump won a scathing election to become the 45th president.

Those two surreal worlds will collide again on Wednesday when a group of Cubs get a private White House tour that can be interpreted as a political statement, something larger than this four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

This comes less than six months after the Cubs enjoyed an East Room ceremony that became the final official event at Barack Obama’s White House, at a polarizing time when speculation centered on whether or not the Golden State Warriors would skip the traditional photo op with Trump, not wanting to make an implicit endorsement after winning another NBA title.

“You’d have to talk to the Warriors,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “To go tomorrow is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself. Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. And I like everything that it represents a lot.

“So when you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. Whether you like the person that’s running the country or not — out of respect to the office itself — you go.

“I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now, because I have a different perspective.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, a board member who withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary, brought the World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and did a meet and greet with Illinois Congressional staffers at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Within the Ricketts family/Cubs board of directors, Pete is Nebraska’s Republican governor and Laura was a superdelegate and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also active in Democratic circles.

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Maddon also plans to attend a luncheon on Wednesday with young Republicans organized by Congressman Lou Barletta, an old buddy from growing up in Hazleton, Penn., and an early Trump endorser.

“It’s not as ceremonial as the last one was, going there as the World Series champions,” Maddon said. “It’s more based on the Ricketts family relationship and the crowd that’s going to the White House.

“The Ricketts family’s been tied in there really well ... so wherever Mr. Ricketts would like me to go, I’m going to do (it). Mr. Ricketts and the Ricketts family has been good to all of us, so part of that is that.

“The other part is whenever you have a chance to go to the White House, I think it’s easy to say yes out of respect to the office and the building itself.”

Maddon didn’t know if meeting Trump would be on the itinerary and said he understood if some players passed on the invite.

“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not.

“Furthermore, not having to wear a suit, I think, is the best part of this whole trip, because, to me, to have to dress a certain way to impress somebody, my God, nobody would ever fail. So I’m all about all of the circumstances right now.”

Maddon didn’t sound at all concerned about the optics of visiting the White House at a time of travel bans, sub-40 percent approval ratings and investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, or meeting with a president who compared Chicago to Afghanistan.

“I like living here a lot,” Maddon said. “I like this country a lot. And I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.

“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand and not really realizing actually what we have, which is a lot better than most every place else.”