Chicago Cubs Pad NL Central Lead as Carlos Zambrano Throws A Gem

Bryan CoxContributor IJuly 9, 2008

The Chicago Cubs came into their second game against the Cincinnati Reds with a little extra confidence. 

The Cubs literally have another ace up their sleeve coming into the game Wednesday night.  Rich Harden has officially arrived at Wrigley, and the Cubs batters greeted him with a show.

After giving up a quick solo home run to Adam Dunn, Carlos Zambrano settled down to say the very least.  Zambrano retired the next 20 batters he faced, and looked like he could have pitched all night. 

In winning the game, Zambrano becomes the second Cubs' pitcher to reach 10 wins, and Ted Lilly can become the third if he wins Thursdays game.

After tying the game on an error, Aramis Ramirez broke out of his slump in a big way hitting a solo blast and putting the Cubs up for good.  Ramirez later doubled in another run, Kosuke Fukudome got into the act with an RBI double, and the Cubs cruised.

Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the eighth inning but was stepped on while making a play at first—he didn't bounce back after that and loaded the bases.  Kerry Wood came in and shut the door to get his 23rd save of the season.

There was no doubt coming into this game the Cubs looked like a complete team, and they are missing arguably their best offensive player, Alfonso Soriano.  Even while missing their star, they find a way to put up runs and gain ground.

The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals both lost Wednesday night, meaning the Cubs pull further ahead on both NL Central opponents.

The Cubs are looking to extend their winning streak and their lead in the division Thursday against Bronson Arroyo.