Zambrano throws best game yet in comeback bid

Zambrano throws best game yet in comeback bid

June 18, 2013, 10:30 pm

Carlos Zambrano threw seven shutout innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. (USA Today Images)

Carlos Zambrano's chances of joining the Phillies may have increased after Tuesday night's successful start for Triple A Lehigh Valley.

In arguably his best outing in his major-league comeback attempt, Zambrano tossed seven shutout innings and allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out six in the IronPigs' 3-0 win at Toledo. Of his 108 pitches thrown, 73 were for strikes.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said just two days ago after Zambrano's fourth minor-league start that he was not yet ready to pitch in the big leagues.

“Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind,” Amaro said Sunday. “I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind.”

The 32-year-old struggled with command his last time out -- also with Lehigh Valley -- walking four men in just five innings while also giving up four hits and two runs. Before Tuesday night, he had doled out 11 free passes in 21 1/3 innings.

The Phillies have until July 1 to promote Zambrano to the majors, or the right-hander can opt out of his deal with the club. The Phillies signed him in mid-May to add depth to a depleted rotation.

Zambrano has stated he wants to be a starting pitcher, citing his struggles as a reliever in the Marlins' bullpen last year, when he allowed eight runs, eight walks and 23 hits in 17 1/3 innings of work. Overall in 2012, Zambrano went 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA but had a career-worst 1.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 games (20 starts).

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