Back is much better news than arm/elbow
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had to leave Monday's game after 1 1/3 innings because of stiffness in his lower back.
It was the shortest outing of Zambrano's career. His previous top abbreviated stint was June 22, 2005, against Milwaukee, when he lasted 1 2/3 innings.
Zambrano struggled to throw strikes from the start and needed 31 pitches to get through the first inning. The Pirates loaded the bases on two straight walks and an infield hit by Freddy Sanchez. Jason Bay hit an RBI single and Xavier Nady cleared the bases with a double into the gap in right-center to make it 4-0.
The Cubs starter, who leads the National League in walks and ranks among the leaders in several other categories, walked the first batter in the second and gave up a single. Two batters later, Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal went to the mound, and Zambrano was pulled.
The Cubs starter gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits and four walks over 1 1/3 innings while striking out one, throwing 43 pitches (23 strikes). Zambrano leads the National League in pitches thrown this season, totaling 3,282, including Monday's game. He was averaging 112 pitches per start.