Carlos Zambrano wins for first time since late June

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Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano has struggled this season in more ways than one.  Through 70 innings — 11 starts, 16 relief appearances — he has posted a 5.27 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 38 walks against 63 strikeouts.  Oh, and there was that little incident back in June that cost him a month.

Perhaps some progress was made on Saturday.  Big Z limited the division rival Cardinals to two earned runs over 5.2 innings on a steamy day at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, allowing his Cubs to grab a 3-2 victory.  He struck out three batters and issued only two walks.

As the Associated Press notes, it was his first victory since June 20.  It was also his first sign of life since his team-issued suspension.

Zambrano is owed $18 million annually through 2014, which will make a trade or any type of move extremely difficult.  Essentially, the Cubbies are stuck with him.  So they might as well throw him into the fire and see if he can settle in as a reliable third or fourth starter.  Hey, every good team has a few innings eaters.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.