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08/29/10 12:14 PM ET

Zambrano gets back to business vs. Pirates

Carlos Zambrano will open the Cubs' three-game set with the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Monday. But he will be pitching with a heavy heart.

Zambrano hasn't spoken with reporters since returning on Saturday from Venezuela, where he was with family to attend to a nephew who was ill. The veteran right-hander did, however, participate in his normal side session and was on track to toe the rubber against Pittsburgh.

"He came back feeling like things were better," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Saturday. "It's still on his mind."

Zambrano has pitched well in four starts since returning to the rotation on Aug. 9, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. That included one of his best two starts of the season on Tuesday, when he limited the Nationals to one run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

Paul Maholm will be on the other side, attempting to right Pittsburgh, loser of three straight games. Maholm has history on his side. Despite a career 5.70 ERA against the Cubbies, he is 7-1 in 12 career starts against them.

Pirates: Tale of two outfielders at plate
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen was out of Sunday's starting lineup and walked in his ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance. McCutchen was batting .204 in August. ... Fellow outfielder Lastings Milledge has batted more than a hundred points higher, .305, this month.

Cubs: Welcome-home celebrations planned
Quade will manage his first home game since taking over for the recently retired Lou Piniella. "I look forward to every day," Quade said, "but that will be something special. Opening Day, when I first got the job with Lou was special." ... Chicago will honor recent Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson at Wrigley Field prior to Monday night's game.

Worth noting
Pittsburgh enters its final three-game series of the season with Chicago with nine wins in the clubs' first 12 matchups. ... Ryan Doumit (8-for-17, 3 RBI) owns the all-time duel with Zambrano. ... On the other side of the coin, Aramis Ramirez (10-for-29, 2 HR, 8 RBI) has dominated Maholm.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.