MILWAUKEE – All the elements were in Carlos Zambrano’s favor.
Zambrano pitched the first no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 36 years, returning from a sore rotator cuff to shut down the Houston Astros 5-0 Sunday night in a game relocated because of Hurricane Ike.
“I guess I’m back!” Zambrano woofed.
Pitching for the first time since Sept. 2, and cheered on by thousands of Cubs fans, Zambrano stopped a Houston team that had not played since Thursday. The storm forced baseball to move two games from Texas to Miller Park and the weary Astros arrived only hours before the first pitch.
The Cubs, meanwhile, faced a short bus ride. Plenty of their faithful followed them up Interstate 94.
This was baseball’s first neutral-site no-hitter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Zambrano (14-5), known for his emotional displays on the mound, kept himself in control until striking out Darin Erstad to finish off the gem.
“I’m a little confused right now,” the three-time All-Star said. “I still can’t believe it. It’s a great feeling, a feeling that you can’t describe.”
Zambrano walked one and hit a batter in the Cubs’ first no-hitter since Milt Pappas against San Diego in 1972. This was the 13th no-hitter in team history, including five in the late 1800s.
“Pretty exciting stuff,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
This was the second no-hitter in the majors this season — Boston’s Jon Lester did it against Kansas City at Fenway Park on May 19.
It also was the first no-hitter at Miller Park, and the Brewers were nowhere to be found.