With Zambrano needing a triple for the cycle, Piniella decided to lift his ace after seven sharp innings and 111 pitches. Zambrano settled for a homer, double and single as the Chicago Cubs routed the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-3 on Tuesday night.
Asked if he would have liked one more at-bat, Zambrano replied, "Yeah, why not? I think sometimes it's good to break some records and be in the history" books.
"I run pretty good, you know," said Zambrano, who has three career triples.
Zambrano is a career .235 hitter and a two-time Silver Slugger award winner as the NL's best-hitting pitcher. But he opened the season hitless in nine at-bats.
"I told him about a week ago, you're not swinging the bat like you were last year," Piniella said. "He said it's early."
Zambrano snapped out of his slump with a single in the third. Then he hit a high drive off the top of the wall in right-center to knock in a run in the fifth.
"Don't get me wrong -- I hit it good, but I didn't hit it solid," Zambrano said.
In the seventh, Zambrano hit an 0-2 sinker from Esmerling Vasquez solid. The solo shot landed in the first row of the seats in left for his 17th career homer, most by a Cubs pitcher.
Zambrano said he figured it was only a matter of time until he started hitting.
"I don't what is the panic," Zambrano said. "Last year I started 0 for 10. I ended up winning the Silver Slugger."
The homer brought a roar from the large contingent of Cubs fans in the Chase Field crowd of 30,351.
Early on, it looked as if Zambrano would need a lot of run support. In the first, he escaped a first-and-third jam by getting Mark Reynolds to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
"We didn't cash in early," Arizona third baseman Chad Tracy said. "He made his pitches when he had to."
Zambrano (2-1) waved to acknowledge a standing ovation from fans behind the visiting dugout as he walked off after the seventh, his last inning. Zambrano allowed three runs and eight hits, walking two and striking out three.
The ball was jumping -- for the Cubs, at least -- with Chase Field's roof and panels open on an 85-degree evening in the desert. The Cubs didn't look like a team that mustered three hits against Dan Haren in a 7-2 loss on Monday night.
"Our bats came alive tonight," Piniella said.
Soriano homered in consecutive games for the third time this season. With two on in the third, he hit an 0-1 delivery from Yusmeiro Petit (0-2) into the seats in left for his seventh homer, giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
One inning later, Fontenot hit an 0-1 pitch into the pool area beyond the wall in right-center to make it 5-1.
Petit, who has replaced the injured Brandon Webb in the rotation, allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out two.
"He just couldn't stop the bleeding once they got going a little bit," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.
Chicago 3B Aramis Ramirez, who has a strained calf, ran before the game but couldn't accelerate, Piniella said. Ramirez will be re-evaluated when the club returns to Chicago on Thursday. "If it's not any better then, we're going to have to weigh all our options," Piniella said. ... Chicago 1B Derrek Lee, who's been out with neck spasms, took batting practice and is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday afternoon.