Cubs' win builds hype for Brewers series

Jeff Vorva

The Cubs had just won their season-high sixth game in a row Wednesday, and one of the game’s heroes — Mark DeRosa — went into the weight room for a postgame workout.

He had a chance to see Milwaukee, the Cubs’ next opponent, beat Houston on Damian Miller’s walk-off three-run homer in the 11th inning.

“They’re playing as well as we are,” DeRosa said.

Let the hype begin.

The Cubs beat Colorado 6-4 in front of a Wrigley Field crowd of 39,972. After today’s off day, the old park figures to be rocking and rolling starting Friday, when the National League Central-leading Brewers (46-32, winners of nine of their last 11) take on the second-place Cubs (38-39).

The Cubs, who trail the Brewers by 7∏ games, are coming off three-game sweeps of the White Sox and Rockies, the first time since April 2004 that the Cubs swept opponents back to back in series.

Rookie Mike Fontenot went 3-for-4, including his third homer of the year, to raise his average to .408, while DeRosa doubled and homered in support of Carlos Zambrano (9-6).

Zambrano, who allowed two runs in six innings, is 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA over his last five starts. He admitted to being tired in the second inning on a hot, humid afternoon, but pitched through it.

Manager Lou Piniella doesn’t think an All-Star appearance for the Venezuelan right-hander is out of the question.

“He’s pitching winning baseball right now — quietly,” Piniella said of Zambrano. “I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t make it. He has two more starts before the break.”

Zambrano might be putting the cart before the horse, because he’s already thinking about having the Cubs switch the rotation for the next 10 games so that he can pitch in the Midsummer Classic — should he be selected.

“I want to go, but we would have to make some adjustments,” Zambrano said. “I would have to talk to Lou and (pitching coach Larry Rothschild), because if I continue like this, I would pitch next Tuesday (at Washington) and Sunday (at Pittsburgh). If I pitch on Sunday, I won’t be available to pitch in the All-Star Game. I want to go and be available.”

Zambrano is not the only hot pitcher for the Cubs.

With Ryan Dempster (left oblique) on the disabled list and Bob Howry overused over the last week, rookie Carlos Marmol is getting some on-the-job, ninth-inning training in being a closer.

It didn’t work so well Tuesday night, when Marmol surrendered a run in two-thirds of an inning and Will Ohman had to come in and record his first career save in an 8-5 Cubs victory.

On Wednesday, Marmol worked a 1-2-3 ninth to gain his first career save and lower his ERA to 1.29.

“Sarge (former Cubs hitting coach Gary Matthews) last year told me, joking with me: ‘All the tools, no tool box,’ ’’ Zambrano said. “Sometimes that happens with players in our first or second years in the big leagues. We have all the tools but no tool box. Now, Marmol looks like he has all the tools and he could be one of the (better) closers in the game.”

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who came of the disabled list Friday after hurting his left knee, was given the day off. Combined with today’s off day, Ramirez should be able to play all three games against the Brewers without any problems according to Piniella.

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