MILWAUKEE - Cubs manager Lou Piniella noticed something when he brought Carlos Zambrano out of the bullpen Saturday night.
"The whole place became electric last night," Piniella said. "I thought they were cheering for me when I was walking out to the mound. I think they were anticipating the move that was coming."
Contact information ( * required )
That move was Zambrano's first relief appearance since 2002. Zambrano worked 11/3 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 run and getting the Cubs out of trouble in the seventh inning of a game they won 5-1.
Zambrano would rather be starting, and he has not wanted to talk about the outing. However, Piniella talked about the changing dynamic of the bullpen.
"You can see how I used my bullpen yesterday a little bit," he said. "I was able to use (John) Grabow, with experience, in the seventh inning. I still had (Sean) Marshall in the ninth to try to get a couple left-hand hitters out. It gives us a whole, total different perspective and different look in the bullpen.
"I think it's going to allow me to use the bullpen better. At the same time, I think it's going to boost everybody's confidence out there.
"It's got a lot of positive effects for us. Basically, I thought Carlos came in and threw the ball very well last night for the first time that he had done this."
Piniella wants to take some of the burden off young relievers such as Justin Berg and James Russell. Another young reliever, Esmailin Caridad, is due to come off the disabled list soon. And the Cubs miss right-handed setup man Angel Guzman, who had shoulder surgery.
"What are we supposed to do, put the burden every day on four young kids?" Piniella asked. "Is it fair to them? Is it fair to us? I'm trying to win baseball games here. The new owner wants to win baseball games here.
"You've seen what's happened here the first two weeks of the season. And that wasn't going to change overnight.
"You've got to bring young pitchers along the right way. You throw them into the fire, and they don't respond the right way; you're going to get more adversity than you are success.
"I like these kids that are here. I said that out of spring training, but not in 2-2 ballgame in the eighth inning or a 2-1 ballgame in the eighth inning. It's not going to work. It could work six weeks from now if they're brought along the right way."
It's working: Center fielder Marlon Byrd did not play despite entering Sunday having gone 13-for-26 on the road trip and riding a four-game hitting streak.
It's all part of Lou Piniella's plan to rotate his outfielders, all of whom are performing well.
"We said that we'd rotate our outfielders a little bit, and that's all we're doing," Piniella said. "He (Byrd) has been playing awfully well. But this is like two days off because you play Saturday and you play Monday night; you don't play for two days. I think it's making our outfield a whole lot better.
"I told him last night. He said, 'You know I feel pretty good.' I said, 'I know that.' It's good. It's good that players like to play. I want players that want to play every day as opposed to guys that are happy when they're not playing."
This and that: The Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers for the first time since Aug. 23-25, 2004, at Wrigley Field. It was their first three-game sweep in Milwaukee since Sept. 5-7, 2003. - The Cubs' three-game winning streak is a season high. - Kosuke Fukudome reached base in 5 of 6 plate appearances. His on-base percentage is .400.