Zambrano exits with lower back stiffness

Zambrano exits with lower back stiffness

MIAMI -- Marlins right-hander Carlos Zambrano's start against the Rays was cut short Saturday night after just 2 1/3 innings when he was pulled with stiffness in his lower back in an eventual 13-4 Rays win.

Zambrano said he felt some tightness when he got to Marlins Park before the game, and the stiffness progressively got worse as he pitched. Despite leaving the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't expect Zambrano to miss his next start.

"No, no," Guillen said when asked if Zambrano will be out for an extended period of time. "He's just stiff. He woke up this morning and said he went through it all day. I don't expect him to miss a start."

The righty cruised through the first inning on seven pitches, but labored through the second, when the Rays sent nine men to the plate and scored five runs on four hits. The Rays then plated two more off Zambrano in the third before he was taken out of the game with the Marlins trailing 7-0.

Zambrano struggled with his command during his short outing, walking three batters, and the injury may have been part of the cause of his struggles. Of his 57 pitches, 30 were balls.

In the third, Guillen, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and a trainer came out to the mound to check on Zambrano after he gave up a one-out walk to Carlos Pena and then fell behind 2-0 to Ben Zobrist. They decided to leave Zambrano in the game, and two pitches later, he gave up a two-run homer to Zobrist before leaving the field with one of the team's trainers.

"Carlos told me he was OK twice -- in Spanish and in English, in case my English is bad," Guillen said. "I know Carlos, he's a competitor and he doesn't want to wait another five days to compete, but I told him I don't want to lose him for weeks."

The righty received treatment after exiting the game, and expects to be fine for his next scheduled start.

"I feel much better now that I got treatment today, now I have to continue tomorrow," Zambrano said.

Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.