MILWAUKEE -- Making his first start in 12 days, Carlos Zambrano threw his first career no-hitter as Chicago beat the Houston Astros, 5-0, in a makeup game played in front of a very pro-Cubs crowd of 23,441 at Miller Park.
It was the first no-hitter by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas did so Sept. 2, 1972, in an 8-0 win over San Diego, and the ninth by a Chicago pitcher since 1900. It was the second no-hitter in the Major Leagues this year. Boston's Jon Lester threw one May 19 against Kansas City.
It was also the first no-hitter in Major League history to be accomplished on a field that was home to neither team. The game was moved to Milwaukee from Houston, where Hurricane Ike struck on Saturday, causing considerable damage and power outages.
"I'm a little confused right now," Zambrano said. "I still can't believe it. It's a great feeling, and it's a feeling that you can't describe. To throw a no-hitter is good, man. This is one of the few things in baseball that you most enjoy."
He was able to make history, not only throwing a no-no, but doing so in such unusual circumstances, playing at a neutral site. The Cubs also weren't sure what to expect from Zambrano (14-5), who was making his first start since Sept. 2. That also was against the Astros, but he had taken himself out of the game because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
"He had everything going," Piniella said. "From the first few pitches of the ballgame, you knew his arm was live and the ball was coming out easy. It had good movement on it. He located for the most part the whole ballgame, and he used his split-finger and slider to keep the hitters honest. It was just a great game, and we needed that. He had been struggling. To do this, it's special. I'm very happy for him."
Zambrano struck out 10 in his first complete game since June 16, 2007. He got Darin Erstad out swinging on a split-finger to end the game, then pointed to the sky as his teammates swarmed him on the mound to celebrate the feat.
The Cubs increased their NL Central lead to 7 1/2 games over the Brewers and lowered their magic number to clinch the division to seven. The Astros, despite being no-hit, gained a half-game in the Wild Card race due to the Phillies' doubleheader sweep of the Brewers. Houston is two games behind Philadelphia and Milwaukee, which are tied for the lead.
The Cubs and Astros will face off once again at Miller Park at 1:05 p.m. CT today, with Ted Lilly having to follow up Zambrano's historic night against Houston right-hander Brad Moehler.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.