Carlos Zambrano, Hottest Pitcher In NL In September, Faces Astros

(Sports Network) - Fiery right-hander Carlos Zambrano aims to round out a tumultuous season with an eight-decision win streak tonight, when the Chicago Cubs visit Minute Maid Park for the middle game of a three-game series with the Houston Astros.

The Cubs won Friday's opener, 2-0, when Casey Coleman (4-2) threw seven shutout innings and gave up just six hits and a walk with two strikeouts and drove in a run. Welington Castillo added an RBI for the Cubs, who have won four of their last five.

Bud Norris (9-10) was tagged with the loss for giving up two runs on three hits with seven walks and six strikeouts over six innings for the Astros, who have lost five of six.

Zambrano, a 29-year-old Venezuelan who spent part of the year on a team suspension and also endured a demotion to the bullpen, was 3-6 on the year after a 6-0 loss to the crosstown Chicago White Sox in an interleague game on June 25.

He's won seven straight decisions since, beginning with a 3-2 victory at St. Louis on Aug. 14 and continuing through a 1-0 blanking of San Diego in his most recent start on Monday.

The Cubs are 7-2 in Zambrano's last nine starts in which he's dropped his earned run average from 5.46 to 3.36. He's allowed just one earned run in his last four starts, covering 27 2/3 innings.

A 3-1 loser in his last meeting with the Astros, Zambrano is 13-8 against them in his career with a 2.63 ERA in 192 innings.

For Houston, lanky lefty J.A. Happ tries to snap a four-game winless streak to complete his season.

A 12-game winner with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, Happ was 1-0 in three starts with the defending National League champions this season before heading to Houston in a deal that sent veteran ace Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in late July.

He was 5-2 in his initial eight starts with his new team but has not won since a 3-2 defeat of Arizona on Sept. 5.

In four starts since, he's allowed 21 hits and eight runs in 21 1/3 innings while the Astros have been outscored, 29-15.

Houston is 10-6 against the Cubs this season.

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