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Renewed faith, Zambrano says, has helped lead to his turnaround

HOUSTON -- Carlos Zambrano tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout Monday and picked up his first win in a Marlins uniform.

ZambranoThe first thing Zambrano did to celebrate? Point to the sky. It was his way of thanking the spirit above, whom he believes has led to his turnaround not just on the field, but off it.

"To be honest, God changed my life," Zambrano told reporters after the Marlins won their seventh in a row Monday, setting a new franchise record for wins on a road trip.

"Before I was on my own... Now, I'm pitching smiling because God is in my heart. When God is in your heart, nothing is frustrating. Nothing bothers you. You're focused on what you have to do. Because you have God, you can do pretty much anything."

Zambrano, 30, said he grew up going to church with his parents in Venezuela. But for some reason, he said, he stopped going.

"My communication stopped. Things were getting frustrating. Things were getting out of control," Zambrano said. "Now, I don't see my life without Jesus. Last year when I was suspended I went to a youth reunion in Venezuela and God spoke to my life. Since then I've been seeing more God's hands on my life. I don't know if people believe in God, but I do."

Believe what you want to believe, Zambrano says.

What's not up for debate is that after six starts with the Marlins Zambrano has a 1.98 ERA and 32 strikeouts opposite 14 walks. His command Monday was stellar according to catcher John Buck.

"His ball is moving all over the place and when he's able to control that sinker and his cutter that's provides a lot of options for me," Buck said. "And then when you saw that split finger. He was making that plate feel wide to those hitters and keeping that split low in the zone.

"Obviously so many people gave up on him for one reason or another. Since he walked in here he's been nothing but awesome every way you can think of it... he's kind of a favorite in this clubhouse."

Zambrano threw 110 pitches Monday, 69 for strikes.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said the fact Hanley Ramirez padded the lead with a solo shot and the team was able to turn a 3-6-3 double play in the ninth helped make the decision of leaving Zambrano in there easier.