Game One Hundred Nineteen – Cubs 4 Braves 10
WP – Mike Minor (2-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (9-7) Save – None
Some of the worst games of Carlos Zambrano’s career have come against the Atlanta Braves … and Friday’s debacle can be added to the list.
After serving up a career-worst five home runs and becoming only the third Cubs’ pitcher since 1955 to accomplish the dubious feat, Carlos Zambrano was ejected from the game in the fifth inning for throwing at Chipper Jones. Zambrano left the field quietly as the Braves’ dugout began to empty. Homeplate umpire, Tim Timmons, kept the peace and the two teams finished the game.
Carlos Zambrano reportedly cleaned out his locker and told a trainer that he was retiring from baseball while his teammates were still on the field. The Cubs have not issued an official statement.
Friday night was pretty much a replay of Opening Day in Atlanta in 2009. The Braves pounded the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano was rocked. Z allowed eight runs on eight hits, five home runs, without a walk, a HBP and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings … Zambrano has allowed 16 runs on 14 hits in his last two starts at Turner Field (5 2/3 innings). Zambrano served up a career-high five home runs on Friday night and became only the third Cub since 1955 to allow five longballs in the same game … Ismael Valdez in 2000 and Steve Stone in 1974.
Friday night marked the fifth time that Carlos Zambrano has been ejected from a game during his career.
Dan Uggla had a huge night (3-for-3 with two home runs, three runs scored, two RBI and hit by a pitch) and extended his hitting streak to 32 games. Uggla passed Rowland Office (31) for the longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history.
Chipper Jones’ three-run blast in the third gave the Braves a commanding 5-1 lead and it was the 1000th extra basehit of Jones’ career.
The Cubs offense pounded out 11 hits but walked only one time and scored just four runs. Q’s offense finished 2-for-10 with RISP and left seven on base.
Reed Johnson put together another multi-hit game (2-for-4) and drove in the Cubs’ first run of the game. Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and a walk), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) and Aramis Ramirez (2-for-4 with a run scored) all contributed at the plate but not when the game was in question early on.
Starlin Castro belted his seventh homer of the season in the ninth inning. It was Castro’s only hit of the game. The Cubs have now hit 22 home runs over the last 10 games.
With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 17 games under .500 with a 51-68 record … The Cubs were extremely aggressive against Mike Minor throughout the game but especially early. Q’s offense did not make a pitcher that has trouble throwing strikes at the big league level work. The Cubs will continue to struggle winning games, not only this season but in the future, until they change their hitting philosophy.
Reed Johnson reached on a one-out single to left in the first inning … but was quickly erased when Aramis Ramirez rolled over and pulled Minor’s first pitch to third. Chipper Jones started the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Carlos Zambrano sat down the Braves in order in the first on 13 pitches, eight for strikes.
Marlon Byrd just missed hitting a homer in the second and settled for a one-out double off the wall in left. Carlos Pena grounded out to Gonzalez in the shift, Byrd advanced to third but Soriano predictably struck out swinging to end the inning.
Dan Uggla led off the bottom of the second with a booming homer to left center on a 1-0 pitch. Uggla extended his hitting streak to 32 games in a big way and gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Chipper Jones stepped in and ripped Z’s first pitch into left. Alex Gonzalez looked at a questionable strike three for the first out. David Ross smacked Z’s first pitch into right center. Jones advanced to third with one out.
Jose Constanza stepped in and tried to bunt for a hit. Constanza tried to drag a bunt up the first baseline. Pena fielded the ball cleanly and tried to tag Constanza instead of throwing home to get the lumbering Chipper Jones. Constanza ran out of the baseline and was called out but Jones scored and the Braves took a 2-0 lead. Minor tapped back to Zambrano to end the second.
It was obvious early that it was going to be a long-short night for Carlos Zambrano.
Jeff Baker led off the top of the third and just missed a home run down the left field line. Baker ended up smacking a double into the right field corner to begin the inning. Zambrano struck out swinging. An extremely spent Starlin Castro grounded out to third, Baker advanced to third and scored on Reed Johnson’s second hit of the night. Johnson ripped a 0-1 pitch into left. Ramirez looked at strike three to end the inning … but the Cubs were back in the game and down by just one.
Zambrano started the bottom of the third by striking out Michael Bourn and retiring Martin Prado on a grounder to the hole at short.
Freddie Freeman fell behind 0-2 before Zambrano hung a curve. Freeman ripped it into right and kept the inning going for Dan Uggla.
Z ended up plunking Uggla on a 2-2 pitch to put two on with two outs for Chipper Jones. Zambrano fell behind Jones 2-0 before getting one over the plate. Jones launched Z’s next pitch over the wall in center … and pretty much ended the game.
Alex Gonzalez flied out to deep center but a four-run deficit against the Braves might as well have been 10.
Carlos Zambrano threw 54 pitches in the first three innings … and put his team in a big hole.
Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out single to center in the fourth but Pena (fly out to center) and Soriano (lineout to short) could not advance Byrd past first.
The Braves continued taking batting practice of Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the fourth. After David Ross fouled out to Pena to start the inning, Jose Constanza hit a shoulder-high 2-1 offering from Z over the wall in left. Constanza’s opposite field homer gave the Braves a 6-1 lead. Minor struck out swinging and Bourn grounded out to short to end the inning.
Jeff Baker led off the fifth with his second double to right of the game … but Z grounded out to third, Castro lined out to center and Johnson grounded out to third to end the inning.
The Braves launched two more blasts off Zambrano in the fifth before Z was ejected for throwing at Chipper Jones.
Zambrano retired Prado on a lineout to left center to start the fifth … then all Z broke loose.
Freddie Freeman smoked Z’s first pitch into the stands in left center. Freeman’s 16th homer of the year gave the Braves more than a commanding 7-1 lead. Dan Uggla followed put a 0-1 offering in just about the exact same place as Freddie Freeman. Uggla’s second longball of the night put the Braves up by seven and all but ended Zambrano’s night.
Carlos Zambrano threw a first pitch strike to Chipper Jones … then threw one inside that Jones was able to avoid … then Z threw another one even further inside. Homeplate umpire Tim Timmons decided enough was enough and tossed Zambrano from the game.
Z left the field calmly as the Braves’ dugout started to empty. Both teams remained calm and Ramon Ortiz was summoned from the pen.
Ortiz took over with a 2-1 count on Jones and ended up striking out Jones for the second out of the inning. Alex Gonzalez grounded out to short to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a single to center. After Geovany Soto was called out on strikes and Marlon Byrd struck out swinging, Carlos Pena singled to right. Ramirez advanced to third with two outs.
Alfonso Soriano put a nice swing on a 1-1 pitch from Mike Minor. Soriano watched the ball again instead of running and ended up at second after Martin Prado caught the ball but dropped it as he crashed into the wall in left. Ramirez and Pena scored … 8-3 Braves.
Mike Minor appeared to pitch around Jeff Baker and walked him with Ramon Ortiz standing in the on deck circle … Baker took the Cubs only free pass of the night.
Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen at that point and brought in Cristhian Martinez to face pinch-hitter Darwin Barney. Barney ended up striking out to end the inning.
John Grabow took over in the bottom of the sixth and made an ugly, embarrassing night even worse. Grabow gave up two runs and took away whatever momentum the Cubs might have created in the top of the sixth.
David Ross singled to center to start the sixth. Jose Constanza followed and hit a ball off Grabow’s knee. Aramis Ramirez picked up the ball and threw low to first. Ross ended up at third with no outs.
Brooks Conrad hit for Martinez and ripped Grabow’s first pitch into right field. Ross scored … 9-3 Braves. Constanza advanced to third and scored on a sac fly to deep center off the bat of Michael Bourn. Martin Prado grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning … but at the end of six, the Braves had a 10-3 lead.
Aramis Ramirez reached on a two-out single to center in the seventh … but that was it.
John Grabow gave up a one-out single to Dan Uggla in the bottom of the seventh but was able to retire Chipper Jones (fly out to center) and Alex Gonzalez (fly out to center) to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against Arodys Vizcaino in the eighth … and James Russell sat down the Braves in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Starlin Castro hit a two-out homer off Anthony Varvaro in the ninth. Castro’s seventh of the year made the final score 10-4. The other three Cubs in the ninth (Baker, Colvin and Campana) all struck out and the Cubs struck out 11 times on Friday night with one walk.
The Atlanta Braves always bring out the best in Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs …
Randy Wells is scheduled to face Derek Lowe in game two on Saturday night.