Zambrano hopes to pitch in All-Star, help NL end slide

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano wants to pitch in next month's All-Star Game -- to help the Chicago Cubs gain home-field advantage in the World Series.

Zambrano, 8-3 with a 3.13 ERA, went on the 15-day disabled list June 19 because of a right shoulder strain and likely will be activated to start July 4 at St. Louis. The All-Star Game is July 15 at Yankee Stadium.

"I'm ready," he said Thursday. "I want to pitch in the All-Star Game. I want to be there. I want to help the National League, so we can be in the World Series and get home-field advantage. With a little help from me, [Arizona's Brandon] Webb and [Cincinnati's Edinson] Volquez, and the rest of the hitters and pitchers, we can finally win one."

The NL hasn't won the All-Star Game since 1996. That's not much of a drought for the Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908.

Zambrano, sweating profusely on a hot day, played catch in the outfield and he plans to throw off a bullpen mound Sunday, his first mound session since getting hurt.

"I felt good today," he said. "One thing I learned from this is that you have to work harder than normal. Sometimes you can come to the park lazy and you don't want to do nothing. On those days you have to do more. My arm will appreciate anything I can do to get it strong."