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Carlos Zambrano throws blanks for 8; Cubs win it in the 10th

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Seldom has Carlos Zambrano had a better outing than his performance on Monday night at Wrigley Field against the San Diego Padres.

But never has he pitched so well in such bitter conditions without the reward of a victory.

With a 34-degree temperature at game time, and 12 mph winds making it colder, Zambrano froze ­Padres hitters, giving up three singles through eight innings while striking out 10. He struck out the side twice and caught three batters looking.

The problem was the cold was equally beneficial to Padres starter Tim Stauffer, who didn’t allow a run through seven innings and allowed only four hits.

The scoreless duel went into the 10th before pinch hitter Tyler Colvin doubled home Geovany Soto from first. Soto had kept the inning alive moments earlier against Chad Qualls (0-1) by avoiding getting ­doubled up after forcing Kosuke Fukudome at second.

Colvin’s RBI gave the Cubs and Carlos Marmol (1-1) the 1-0 victory, ending the longest scoreless nine ­inning Cub game since July 26, 2006, that against the New York Mets.

‘‘These are the kind of games you’ll see in April,’’ manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘The pitching was outstanding. A huge hit for Colvin. You never know what might get you out of your mess.’’

A sleeveless Zambrano worked effortlessly. ‘‘It was cold and the wind was blowing in, but let’s have fun,’’ he said. ‘‘We needed this one, a fresh start here after a tough loss [Sunday in Colorado.] Thank God I gave my team eight innings.’’

Far fewer than the paid attendance of 36,597 were on hand to see it, but those who were cheered every strikeout.

‘‘I love these fans,’’ Zambrano said. ‘‘When I hear them cheer, I feel motivated.’’

Quade needed the long outing from Zambrano, given the continuing a mix-and-match situation at the back end of the rotation. Tonight will be the second turn for lefty James Russell, who will hope for a better outcome than his first career start last week against Houston. That lasted 12/3 innings, with four earned runs on the ledger of an 11-2 loss.

‘‘I can only hope it will go better,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m looking forward to it. I feel great. I feel I’m well enough to handle [about 65] pitches.’’

Quade will limit Russell to no more than about 70 after his 55-pitch outing last week. ‘‘Unless he does something exceptional, I’d keep him protected.’’

Rookie Casey Coleman, who picked up the other start in place of injured Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner, would be slated to go again at the end of the week. But nothing is certain even for tonight because of the uncertainty of the weather.

Quade said Colvin likely will get a start tonight because Fukudome and his wife are expecting the ­arrival of a child.

‘‘Whether we play on [tonight] or not, I wanted to see Zambrano pitch well,’’ Quade said of coming back after several ‘‘tough losses’’ on the road.

‘‘We have things to clean up,’’ Quade said. ‘‘We want to make fewer mistakes, but they battled the entire 10 days and that attitude will give us a chance to get better.’’

Russell said he is willing to keep starting if necessary.

‘‘If it works that way, awesome. If not, awesome,’’ he said. ‘‘Either way, as long as I’m here I’m happy. Starting or relieving is up to them. It doesn’t bother me.”

The Cubs have other possibilities in the minors in former major leaguers ­Ramon Ortiz, 37, and lefty Doug Davis, 35.

‘‘Ortiz threw [Sunday] and we’ll keep him working,’’ general manager Jim Hendry said. ‘‘Davis is throwing fine. I think he’ll be able to go to one of the affiliates in a few weeks.’’

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