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Carlos!

Carlos Zambrano came of age in the major leagues tonight.

In a remarkably poised performance, better than anything I've seen Kerry Wood OR Mark Prior throw this year, Zambrano gained his first major league complete game and shutout in a masterful 3-0 shutout of the Astros tonight.

Once again, a swiftly played game is always better and the 2:24 game time allowed me to get home this early (it's now just after 10 pm CT) and post this report tonight, rather than wait till morning.

There will be some who would complain that Zambrano was allowed to throw 121 pitches, but honestly, I don't think that's too many. He didn't labor at all, and his stuff and command seemed on in every single inning, save the third when he allowed a just-inside-the-line double to Adam Everett, and then walked Craig Biggio with two out. That was the only time he was even remotely in trouble; he was helped out by two very nice double plays, including a slick Alex Gonzalez play to end the game.

Gonzalez also picked today to come out of his 2-for-46 slump in a big way, with an opposite-field 2-run HR in the first inning, all the scoring the Cubs needed tonight. It was also nice to see Kenny Lofton wasn't bothered too much by the jammed wrist, as he came back with three hits off Tim Redding, who had been pretty hot his last few starts.

This is what's so maddening about this team -- they can look so bad one night, and so dominant the next. What they need to do, as Troy O'Leary told my friend Ernie last night (Ernie works for Troy's uncle) is to reel off six or eight wins in a row, and then they'll really begin to believe they can dominate the division. It's been so close that any of the three teams who can do this, will probably win, and with the Cubs still having five more games with Houston (including three in Houston where they have already won four of six), and eight with the Cardinals (who had to go through FOUR relievers in the ninth inning tonight to finally put away the Pirates), I still have tremendous optimism.

We were all absolutely astounded when Augie Ojeda was walked intentionally to load the bases for Zambrano -- who's probably a better hitter than Augie is. It worked, since Zambrano struck out, and then Kenny Lofton hit into a controversial force play to end the inning. But I still wouldn't do it if I were the opposing manager.

Tomorrow's matchup -- Shawn Estes vs. Jeriome Robertson -- is a mismatch, with Estes likely to get pummeled by the Houston lineup, and Robertson already having dominated the Cubs last time the Astros were here; but sometimes these mismatches work out in odd ways.

As far as the rest of us in our little right field perch -- it was a pretty ordinary night... I had to sit there myself for a while, saving twelve seats, but eventually, Jeff showed up to help out. We finally got Brian hooked up with Colleen from RCF, who had bought his ticket for the Mother's Day rainout, so he owed her the $24 from the ticket -- not refunded by the Cubs, who have simply sent out another ticket for the day/night DH on September 2. That only took three months to get them both there on the same day!

There was a huge fight behind us in the eighth inning -- at first we didn't even realize what was going on, and then suddenly five or six really large drunk people were on top of each other. One of them wound up with blood streaming out of his nose. What is wrong with people, anyway? Bring back 70's night!