"I don't think we really have much choice," Piniella said Monday. "He didn't throw many pitches yesterday in Pittsburgh, so it's not like he pitched six or seven innings."
Zambrano, who ended his personal winless streak with a win Saturday over the Pirates, is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA against the Cardinals this year.
Ted Lilly and Sean Marshall will start for the Cubs in Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Busch Stadium, and Jason Marquis will finish the series Sunday. Piniella said Zambrano and Lilly will come back on three days' rest for the series against Cincinnati from Sept. 18-19, respectively, with Rich Hill starting Sept. 17.
"Then everything would be back on track," Piniella said.
The Cubs did lose an off-day Monday to makeup the Aug. 19 game against the Cardinals, but still have two off-days remaining, Sept. 20 and Sept. 24.
"I don't know why you need two days off the last nine games of the season and then play 34 out of 35 days," Piniella said. "I don't understand that reasoning, but look, I'm not a schedule maker. To get everything back on track, we'll have to bring both [Zambrano and Lilly] on three days' rest.
"Our pitchers are fairly fresh," Piniella said. "We've watched their pitch counts all summer. we've got enough pitchers now with all these callups that if somebody's struggling or we have a big lead -- which we haven't had -- we can shorten somebody up."
Head to head: The Cubs will play the Cardinals five times in the next seven days and entered Monday's game 7-4 against the Redbirds this season. St. Louis was nine games back on July 27 and has inched back into the National League Central.
"This is a big advantage to Milwaukee," Piniella said of the Cubs and Cardinals going head to head. "You've got the two teams challenging them playing each other. They'll be picking up ground, assuming they win games against somebody. What we need to do here is get hot against St. Louis and hopefully get them behind us a little more."
September hasn't been great for the Cubs, who are 4-5 and batting .265. The pitchers have a 5.81 ERA this month.
"The starting pitching hasn't been all that good the past two weeks or so," Piniella said. "We've had some sporadic work where we get a good game. The guys who have pitched the best have been Lilly and Marquis. We need a little more consistency. They're capable of it. Everybody goes through little slumps. I'm not overly concerned."
Quick turnaround: Players' road gear bags were semi-unpacked, and waiting to be repacked after Monday's makeup game.
"It feels almost like it's an extension of your road trip," Piniella said. "It's something that probably could've waited until the end of the year, but what are you going to do?"
The Cubs arrived in Chicago on Sunday night around 8 p.m. CT, and leave after Monday's game to resume the road trip with stops in Houston and St. Louis.
For Marquis, the stopover was welcome. He could celebrate his daughter Reese's third birthday on Monday.
"It actually isn't too bad," Marquis said.
The guys who have it tough are the clubhouse attendants, who unpacked the bags Sunday night, then must make sure the team has all of its road gear Monday night. Home clubhouse assistant Gary Stark planned on staying at Wrigley Field late Monday to make sure that when the team unpacks in Houston, it has everything. Otherwise, he'll be making a mad dash to a delivery service to ship a missing jersey or belt or whatever.
Also still to be determined is Piniella's beard.
"I just haven't shaved -- nothing more, nothing less," he said. "I'm not trying to make any statements or even grow a beard. It just hasn't itched yet.
"What I need is 'Just for Men' to get it darker," he said.
Right man for the job: Lilly has eight wins after a Cubs loss. Only five Cubs pitchers over the last 30 years have posted 10 wins after a loss. The list includes: Zambrano, who was 11-2 after a loss in 2006; Jon Lieber, who was 10-3 after a loss in 2001; Greg Hibbard, 11-5 in 1993; Greg Maddux, 12-7 in 1992; and Rick Reuschel, 12-8 in 1979.
In 1964, Larry Jackson went 16-4 after a loss, the most wins following a loss by a Cub since 1900. All-time, the Cubs record for wins following a loss is 20 by John Clarkson in 1887 (20-8) and Bill Hutchison in 1890 (20-11).
Ouch: Mark DeRosa has a sore left elbow and may not be available Tuesday after getting hit by a pitch. DeRosa was plunked in the fifth inning Monday. He also was hit in the wrist during the Pirates series and hit by a line drive by teammate Jacque Jones during batting practice Monday.
"It seems like I've been a magnet the last couple days," DeRosa said.
Jason Kendall also was hit by a pitch Monday, and Piniella was asked if the Cubs were being targeted.
"We have been getting hit," Piniella said. "That's all I need to say about it. We're aware of it."
Chicago's Derrek Lee didn't see a trend.
"We've had some guys get hit, but I believe pitchers have to pitch inside," Lee said. "It's unfortunate DeRosa took two good ones, but I think he understands those guys weren't throwing at him."
Said Lilly: "The first thing you look for is to decide if it was intentional or not. From the guys I talked to and the coaches, none of them thought it was intentional. DeRosa isn't the type of guy to bring it on, nor is he the type of guy to dive across the plate."
Quote of the day: "Feel sorry for Tony [La Russa]? He's a good friend. He's a Hall of Fame manager. He won a world championship last year. Let somebody else do it this year. If he wins this year, it means we're out. They've been through a lot over there. From that regard, I do have sympathy. But at the same time, they're in our division, and we have to beat them and we have a job to do." -- Piniella, on the Cardinals skipper
Extra bases: Geovany Soto could get more playing time. "It's tempting to put him in every day, but we've got an experienced guy," Piniella said of Kendall. ... Kerry Wood has had some problems with his command lately. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks and was unable to retire a batter in his last outing Sunday. ... Lee ranks fourth in the NL with a .359 home batting average, but is hitting .264 on the road. Alfonso Soriano is batting .333 on the road, and .259 at home.
Minor matters: Left-hander Lindsay Gulin struck out seven in a three-hit shutout Sunday to lead Huntsville to a 6-0 victory over Tennessee and even the best-of-five playoffs series at two wins apiece. The two teams will square off in the deciding game Monday. Donnie Veal took the loss for Tennessee, giving up three runs on five hits and five walks over four innings.
On deck: Marquis will open the Cubs' three-game series at Houston on Tuesday night. The right-hander did not get a decision in his last start against the Dodgers but did notch a quality start. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net.