CHICAGO – Carlos Zambrano passed Kerry Wood on the Cubs' strikeouts list, Starlin Castro became the club's first rookie in 66 years with six straight multihit games, and Chicago beat the New York Mets 5-3 on Saturday.
The Cubs won for the eighth time in 11 games under interim manager Mike Quade, thanks to another sharp performance from Zambrano and big day at the plate from Castro.
Zambrano (7-6) moved into third on the club's strikeout list with 1,411 — four more than Wood — after registering eight over seven innings. He allowed two runs and four hits while improving to 4-0 in six starts since his latest return to the rotation, another twist in a wild season that has seen the volatile ace bounce back and forth from the bullpen and get suspended for a dugout confrontation with former teammate Derrek Lee.
The recent success comes while he's dealt with a seriously ill nephew back home in Venezuela.
Castro delivered again at the plate, raising his average to .321. He doubled and singled, scored a run and stole a base. The Cubs said he is the team's first rookie with two or more hits in six straight games since Don Johnson did it from May 21-28, 1944.
Geovany Soto doubled in a run in the second and Xavier Nady added a sacrifice fly in the third as the Cubs grabbed a 2-0 lead. The Mets made it a one-run game in the fourth when Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran executed a double steal as Lucas Duda struck out, but the Cubs scored two in the fifth against Jenrry Mejia (0-3), sending New York to its fifth loss in six games.
Byrd doubled to the right-field corner, driving in Castro after he led off with a single, and came around on a wild pitch to Tyler Colvin on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout to make it 4-1.
New York's Ike Davis cut the lead to two with a solo homer to right-center in the seventh, but Ramirez answered with one of his own against Elmer Dessens leading off the bottom half. The Mets' Carlos Beltran doubled in a run in the eighth against Andrew Cashner, cutting it to 5-3, but Chicago hung on.
Carlos Marmol struck out three in a scoreless ninth for his 27th save in 32 chances and third in as many games. He gave up a one-out single to Davis before getting Josh Thole and a pinch-hitting Mike Hessman to end the game.
The 20-year-old Mejia lasted five innings in his first major league start, allowing four runs and eight hits.
He spent about the first three months in the Mets' bullpen before they sent him to the minors, hoping he would work on his secondary pitches like the curve to go with his mid-90s fastball, but he was shaky against the Cubs.
NOTES: Mets ace Johan Santana (strained left pectoral muscle) expects to know if he'll make his next start after a bullpen session Sunday. He threw short and long toss in the outfield for about eight minutes before Saturday's game. His next scheduled start is Tuesday against Washington. ... SS Jose Reyes (strained right oblique) remains day to day. He hasn't played since Aug. 26. ... Charlie Root is second on the Cubs' strikeout list with 1,432, while Fergie Jenkins leads with 2,038. ... Carlos Silva is scheduled to start Tuesday for the Cubs against Houston after missing more than a month because of a heart problem.