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After losing no-hitter and shutout, Zembrano wins

8/23/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano's knees buckled and he threaded
his fingers behind his head. He couldn't believe he just lost his
no-hit bid on an extremely close play.

Zambrano did not allow a hit until Shea Hillenbrand's infield
single with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs
beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Friday night.

"I was real, real sad about that play," Zambrano said. "Four
more outs to throw a no-hitter ... I was really sad. I saw the play
on the field and thought he was out. But he's human and anybody can
make a mistake."

Sammy Sosa homered twice and Curt Schilling struck out 14. But
Zambrano got all the attention as he tried to make history.

Arizona had not come close to a hit until Hillenbrand topped a
ball down the line in the eighth. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez
charged, gloved it and made a throw that first baseman Randall
Simon stretched to catch.

First-base umpire Bill Miller called Hillenbrand safe. A TV
replay, however, appeared to show Hillenbrand was out.

"I had the play safe," Miller said. "I saw a replay -- it was
a point where Randall made a great stretch, made a great play. I
have to go with what I had on the field."

Simon stood up from his crouch and leaned back in disbelief at
the call.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker did not come out to argue.

"From the dugout it looked like he was out," Baker said. "At
that point it (arguing) isn't going to change it, number one. And
number two, I've seen many times when a guy breaks up a no-hitter
and he ends up losing concentration and focus. You don't want to do
anything to break up his concentration or focus."

Zambrano (12-9) finished with a three-hitter. He lost his
shutout bid in the ninth when Carlos Baerga walked, Luis Gonzalez
singled with two outs and Raul Mondesi followed with an RBI double
off the third-base bag.

"I think he had a good chance at the no-hitter because there's
a good chance Gonzalez never gets to the plate," Baker said.

Chicago moved into second place in the NL Central, a half-game
behind the Houston Astros.

Sosa extended his streak of 30-homer seasons to nine, the
sixth-longest in major league history. His second home run also was
his 500th in a Cubs' uniform, 12 short of Ernie Banks' franchise
record.

"I feel great. I feel very happy," Sosa said. "I just have to
continue doing my job. This isn't a time to celebrate right now.
Maybe when my career's finished I can see everything I've been
doing."

Sosa hit a towering, two-run homer just over the right-field
fence in the first inning and added a 453-foot shot leading off the
fourth. Sosa has four multihomer games this season and 62 in his
career.

The Cubs slugger has 529 career home runs. He moved within five
of Jimmie Foxx for 11th place on the all-time list.

Ramirez hit his 19th homer.

Schilling (7-7) was tagged for all three home runs. He allowed
four runs and six hits in eight innings and matched a season-high
for strikeouts.

"That's kinda the way it's been going lately," Arizona manager
Bob Brenly said. "We make mistakes and they end up in the seats.
Those were about the only mistakes he made in the ballgame."

Zambrano retired the first 12 batters he faced before walking
Mondesi to lead off the fifth inning. Zambrano then retired the
next 11 Arizona hitters in a row before Hillenbrand's single.

"I don't think it would have made any difference what lineup we
ran out there," Brenly said. "There are given nights when a guy
has it all going and is in a great rhythm. I don't think there was
much of anything we could have done tonight to shake him."

Game notes
Milt Pappas through the Cubs' last no-hitter, a 8-0 win
over San Diego on Sept. 2, 1972, at Wrigley Field. ... The
Diamondbacks fell 3{ games out in the wild-card race. ... Sosa has
eight home runs in 52 career at-bats against Schilling. ...
Schilling struck out Simon in the fourth for his 2,500th career
strikeout, then got former teammate Tony Womack in the sixth to
pass Christy Mathewson for 24th on the all-time list at 2,503.
Schilling has 85 career games with double-digit strikeouts. ...
Mondesi started in center field for the first time since last Sept.
22, in Detroit for the New York Yankees. Mondesi replaced Steve
Finley, hitless in his last 12 at-bats.