But Zambrano didn't last long. Mike Stanton's second home run of the game chased Zambrano in the fifth inning. Zambrano lasted 4 2/3 innings, yielding eight earned runs, walking four. The Marlins won, 13-3.
"Man, I feel like RoboCop today," Zambrano said. "When he got shot and [couldn't] get his target, that's how I feel today. [I] tried to throw my ball and for some reason my sinker was running to the middle instead of to the corner."
Zambrano was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball and did strike out six in his short outing. However, it was that elevated velocity that concerned manager Mike Quade.
"He was throwing hard and probably didn't have quite the life and location that he's had here when he was on this nice run," Quade said. "When I saw his velocity early, sometimes I'm more concerned when I see mid-90s than mid-80s. [He] seems to pitch really good in the 90-ish area and reach back [for more] every once in a while."
Zambrano, who said he may have been trying to throw instead of just pitch, kept it simple while agreeing with his manager.
"My fastball was good," Zambrano said. "Just arm, body good. Intelligence, no good."
Zambrano's last start was June 30 against the San Francisco Giants, and he came out in the second inning with lower back soreness.
The Cubs optioned Chris Carpenter to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Zambrano.
Sahadev Sharma covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com.