CHICAGO — Carlos Zambrano earned his 13th victory on the fourth try and also homered Thursday to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds
Zambrano (13-5) allowed a run and six hits in seven innings, including a solo homer by Jay Bruce in the sixth. The Cubs' ace had two no-decisions and a loss in his previous three starts, giving up 17 hits and 15 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings.
But facing a team he's had great success against, he was able to get his first victory since July 29. Zambrano ran his record against the Reds to 4-0 this season and 14-9 for his career.
Zambrano hit his fourth homer of the season _ and the fifth of his career against the Reds _ to put Chicago up 3-0 in the third. It as the second time in the series the Cubs got offense from their starting pitcher. Rich Harden bunted home a run in a 5-0 win Tuesday night.
The victory extended the Cubs' lead in the NL Central to 5 1/2-games over idle Milwaukee.
The Reds had base runners on in every inning against Zambrano, but only broke through on Bruce's 13th homer. Zambrano allowed four walks while striking four.
Joey Votto's 15th homer, a towering shot off reliever Carlos Marmol that cleared the right field bleachers in the eighth, brought the Reds within 3-2. Kerry Wood worked a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 31 chances.
Derrek Lee's double play grounder following a leadoff walk to Alfonso Soriano and single by Ryan Theriot put the Cubs up 1-0 in the first off Josh Fogg (2-6). Mark DeRosa's long homer to left in the second, his 15th of the season, made it 2-0. And Zambrano stretched it to a three-run cushion with his a drive over the wall in right center in the third.
Cincinnati's Corey Patterson drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, but he was quickly thrown out trying to steal. Paul Bako and Chris Dickerson had singles to put runners at first and second, but after a visit to the mound by manager Lou Piniella, Zambrano got Jeff Keppinger to ground out to end the threat.
Notes: The homer was the 16th of Zambrano's career, extending his club record for a pitcher. He's also gone deep five times against the Astros. ... Fogg got the start when Aaron Harang was moved back a day because of neck spasms. Harang will start Friday against the Rockies.