The Cubs seem to have found a happy mix, and Zambrano, who will close the three-game set on Thursday against Yovani Gallardo, is on a roll. He's coming off the best April of his career, and is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA at Wrigley Field this year.
Milwaukee will get a boost with the return of outfielder Mike Cameron, who began the season serving a 25-game suspension after testing positive a second time for a banned amphetamine. He was allowed to play five Minor League games prior to his return to the big league club.
"Cameron's a professional," said Cubs skipper Lou Piniella, who managed the veteran outfielder on his Seattle team from 2000-02. "He knows how to play and he knows how to play to win, plus he can hit the ball out of the ballpark and at the same time play a heck of a center field."
Piniella and Cameron will forever be linked for their antics in Game 1 of the 2000 American League Division Series between the Mariners and Chicago White Sox.
Cameron was on first base, and Piniella went to the bag to talk to him. White Sox closer Keith Foulke seemed to get rattled, and Edgar Martinez hit a go-ahead homer to lead the Mariners to a three-game sweep. Piniella later said he told Cameron to buy Cisco stock.
"Mike's a good man," Piniella said Sunday. "I really enjoyed the years we spent together in Seattle. He's a gamer and a good teammate, and he knows how to win."
The Brewers series kicks off a stretch of nine straight games against Central Division foes for the Cubs.
"It's important -- they're all important in your own division," Piniella said. "We've got the Cardinals next and then Cincinnati. All these games in our division are important."
On Opening Day, the Brewers spoiled Kerry Wood's 2008 debut, scoring three runs against the righty in the ninth. Milwaukee won in the 10th against Bob Howry, as Craig Counsell doubled to lead off and advanced on Jason Kendall's sacrifice. One batter later, Tony Gwynn hit a sacrifice fly to score Counsell.
Kosuke Fukudome made a good first impression, going 3-for-3, including a three-run homer in the ninth to tie the game. That's his only homer this season. The Japanese outfielder was 4-for-8 in the series.
In the second game, Rickie Weeks notched his first home run on the first pitch from Ted Lilly to power the Brewers to a 8-2 victory in front of 39,468 at chilly Wrigley Field.
Jeff Suppan, who will start on Wednesday against Ryan Dempster, earned the win, giving up two runs on six hits -- including a pair of solo homers -- and two walks over 6 1/3 innings. Derrek Lee hit his first home run leading off the fourth and rookie Geovany Soto connected on his first with one out in the seventh.
The Cubs avoided a sweep by winning the third game of that initial series as Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer and Alfonso Soriano, back in the leadoff spot, had two RBIs to back Dempster in the 6-3 win.
CHC: RHP Jason Marquis (1-0, 3.47 ERA)
Marquis had another strong start Thursday, earning a no-decision in Colorado. For the first six innings, he matched his previous outing against the Pirates, giving up one run on six hits. He added two more hits and another run in the seventh, however, yielding a solo homer to Chris Iannetta on a sinker meant to go down and away that came back over the plate. He threw 98 pitches over seven innings for his longest start of the season, striking out four.
MIL: RHP Ben Sheets (3-0, 0.96 ERA)
Sheets is slated to return to the rotation after missing his last turn with soreness in his right triceps. He exited a start against the Reds after five innings with the problem, which he said began on April 12 in New York. The Brewers need a healthy Sheets. He leads the NL in WHIP at 0.64 and opponents are hitting only .146 against him. He allowed two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Cubs on Opening Day.
Soriano appeared to pass all tests during a strenuous workout on Sunday. The Cubs outfielder, rehabbing from a strained right calf, was scheduled to come off the disabled list on Thursday. ... Piniella has passed Ralph Houk for sole possession of 14th on the managerial wins list. Piniella picked up win No. 1,620 on Saturday. Next up is Bill McKechnie at 1,965. ... Jake Fox hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot, in Triple-A Iowa's 4-2 win over Memphis. Donnie Veal threw 5 2/3 shutout innings for Double-A Tennessee. ... The Cubs have announced new game times for two contests. The May 10 game vs. Arizona at Wrigley Field will now start at 2:45 p.m. CT, and the July 12 games vs. San Francisco at Wrigley will start at 12:05 p.m. CT. ... Monday marks the 25th anniversary of former manager Lee Elia's tirade against Cubs fans. Piniella and Elia were together on the Mariners' coaching staff. "He's a good guy," Piniella said of Elia, now a consultant with the Mariners. "He loves baseball." What about Elia's comments? "That can happen to anybody," Piniella said. "It's a one-time occurrence, and unfortunately, he'll be remembered for that. He's really a good guy. He's passionate, he loves Chicago, and he loves the Cubs fans, believe it or not. He just went off that day, and he's going to be remembered for that. What can you do?"
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Official game notes
Wednesday: Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 3-0, 2.90) vs. Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 1-0, 3.48), 7:05 p.m. CT
Thursday: Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 4-1, 2.21) vs. Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 0-0, 0.64), 1:20 p.m. CT
Friday: Cubs (Rich Hill, 1-0, 3.79) at Cardinals (TBD), 7:15 p.m. CT