A day of drama for a team in flux
Cycle sinks Cubs as some move on, Zambrano returns
DENVER -- The Cubs lost two members of their family, and then lost a heartbreaker.
Carlos Gonzalez completed his cycle with a walk-off home run leading off the ninth to give the Rockies a 6-5 victory Saturday over the Cubs in a game which marked the departure of Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot and the return of Carlos Zambrano.
With the game tied at 5 in the Colorado ninth against Sean Marshall (6-3), Gonzalez hit a first-pitch fastball to right, 462 feet into the third deck at Coors Field. He singled in the first, tripled in the third, doubled in the fifth and hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
"I think we've seen enough of Mr. Gonzalez," Cubs acting manager Alan Trammell said. "He's put on quite a show the last couple games. That was quite a blast."
The last Rockies player to hit for the cycle was Troy Tulowitzki, who did so Aug. 10, 2009, also against the Cubs. Tom Gorzelanny also started that game. He mixed things up trying to get Gonzalez out.
"I tried a few different locations, and instead of being able to do what I was supposed to do, he hit them," Gorzelanny said. "He's a very active hitter, and he likes to swing the bat and he likes to swing the bat every time. I can't say 'often' because it seems like it's every time. Hang with 'em."
A few hours prior to the Trade Deadline on Saturday, Lilly and Theriot were dealt to the Dodgers in exchange for infielder Blake DeWitt and two Minor League pitchers.
"These are great teammates," Gorzelanny said. "To lose two guys like that, it's tough. To see them go, it's sad. I know they'll be able to go there and do good things for that team."
Trammell, subbing for Lou Piniella, who was attending the funeral of his uncle in Tampa, Fla., was able to get Zambrano back in action for the first time since he was reinstated from the restricted list.
"I was trying to pick the right spot," Trammell said. "He got himself in a little bit of trouble but got out of it, which was nice to see. Hopefully, that will give him some confidence and get him back into the team."
Zambrano entered in the seventh. Gonzalez had hit a sacrifice fly to give the Rockies a 5-2 lead, and there was one on and one out. Zambrano walked Tulowitzki, then gave up a single to Melvin Mora to load the bases. Zambrano struck out Seth Smith and got Brad Hawpe to pop up to end the inning.
"It's just another game for me," Zambrano said. "I just want to get hitters out."
He also would like to be considered for the rotation and not in late August or early September but now.
"I'm ready," Zambrano said. "I'm ready to pitch Tuesday, Thursday."
The Cubs will wait until Piniella comes back to make that call. As of now, Thomas Diamond is scheduled to start Tuesday in Lilly's spot and make his Major League debut.
Back to the game. The Cubs tied it in the eighth when Mike Fontenot singled to lead off, and one out later Tyler Colvin singled to set up Derrek Lee's home run off Rafael Betancourt. The homer ended the team's 0-for-22 skid with runners in scoring position and was Lee's 1,000th career run.
Gorzelanny served up five runs, including three on Miguel Olivo's 13th homer. The Cubs wanted Marshall to face Gonzalez, who's batting .304 against lefties and .314 against right-handers. Pick your poison.
"He's locked in right now," Marshall said. "He's putting good swings on bad pitches and putting good swings on good pitches. He's the guy in the lineup that we didn't want to beat us, and I went in and challenged him and he beat us."
Gonzalez launched a fastball to right, and the game was over.
"We went with our best guy," Trammell said.
Said Gonzalez: "I didn't even think I hit it that hard. I was just trying to put a really good swing to the ball. I think the pitch helped me, too. It was 90-something, inside, and hit right on the barrel. It was unbelievable. I didn't even know that ball was going to end up in the third deck."
The Cubs still have games to be played.
"We know this isn't the way we had it mapped out and planned," Gorzelanny said. "We had a great team, but we also know the season isn't over. ... A lot more has been overcome in terms of games back. We're not counting ourselves out because Ted and Ryan are gone."
It's the first time for some players when they're on a team that is a seller, not a buyer.
"It's been a rough year and a rough season so far," Lee said. "That's what happens when you have a rough four months -- the organization has to make a decision on what direction it's going to go."
Which direction will the Cubs go?
"This team is not going to give up," Lee said. "We're going to still continue to play the best we can."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.