Soriano sparks Cubs as Zambrano shuts down Nats

Cubs 3, Nationals 1

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano stated his All-Star case in convincing fashion Tuesday night.

Zambrano won his third consecutive start to make a final push for an All-Star spot to help the Chicago Cubs defeat the Washington Nationals 3-1.

Zambrano is one of five pitchers on the list for the final spot on the National League All-Star team. He didn't have much trouble against the Nationals, allowing one run and three hits. He struck out eight and walked four in 6 2/3 innings.

Zambrano (10-6) tied Milwaukee's Ben Sheets and Los Angeles' Brad Penny for most wins in the National League.

"Ten wins ... I am surprised he's not on the team," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "I think his 10th win here speaks volumes for making it."

Zambrano jokingly said he's voted for himself 25 times already -- the maximum allowed -- but will just wait and see what happens.

"There's some guys in the competition that have better numbers than me, speaking of ERA," Zambrano said. "I just have more wins than they have. Whatever happens, happens. If I don't go to the All-Star Game, I go to Venezuela and enjoy my time with my family. If I go [to the All-Star Game], I'd enjoy it with my family also."

Zambrano threw 121 pitches and had to battle out of trouble in the second and fifth innings.

But the Nationals again couldn't come up with the big hit despite getting a few good chances. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine, something that's been hurting them all season.

The Nationals nearly tied it in the second inning, but Chicago second baseman Mike Fontenot made a spectacular back-to-the-infield catch of Robert Fick's bloop to center. That came with two runners on and ended the inning.

"[Zambrano] did a great job considering that they didn't give him a big lead," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "He cruised through seven innings."

Bob Howry got the last two outs for his third save.

Chicago is 5-0 against Washington this season and has won 10 of 11 overall. The Nationals struck out 12 times in the loss.

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano again hurt his former team with two hits and two runs scored.

Soriano went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI in Monday's win and did more of the same. Soriano, who batted leadoff for the Nationals last season, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base on Tuesday.

The Cubs needed two batters to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Washington's Tim Redding (0-1), who was making his first major-league appearance since 2005.

Soriano led off with a single and stole second. Ryan Theriot followed with an RBI single to make it 1-0.

Cliff Floyd made it 3-0 with a two-run single in the third. The Nationals intentionally walked Derrek Lee to get to Floyd, Chicago's No. 4 hitter, and the right-fielder lined a single that scored Zambrano and Soriano.

Zambrano had started the inning with a single, and Soriano followed with an infield single.

The Nationals got a run without a hit in the fifth, loading the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Ronnie Belliard then lined a sacrifice fly to center, but Zambrano got Ryan Zimmerman on a pop-up to second base to end the inning.

Redding (0-1) lasted five innings and gave up three runs and five hits. He admitted to being nervous in the first inning but fared better after that.

"I was able to calm myself down after the first run scored," Redding said. "It was exciting to get back up here. I'll just build on this."

Game notes
The Nationals have scored three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive games. ... Ryan Langerhans came into the game batting just .175 but reached three times on a double and two walks. ... Wednesday's game in Washington will be the first time the Cubs have played there on July 4th. ... The Cubs have scored 66 runs in the first inning this season, more than they've scored in any other inning.