CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Mike Quade didn't notice any difference in Carlos Marmol's velocity Tuesday when the closer gave up six runs in the ninth inning against Houston to blow a 3-1 lead.

Marmol's command was the issue.

"He has days where his command just isn't as good as other days," Quade said. "I just didn't think he was as sharp with his slider, and that's what he goes to to strike people out. And he got hurt on a couple of fastballs, which is unusual. Hell, I don't think I've seen him give up a home run to a right-handed hitter. It's been years."

Quade's right. The last time Marmol served up a homer to a right-handed batter was Sept. 6, 2008, to the Reds' Jolbert Cabrera.

Marmol hadn't allowed six runs in a game since Aug. 13, 2006, when he started against Colorado. Tuesday was the first time he allowed six runs as a reliever.

Carlos Zambrano, who started Tuesday and was in line for the win, went up to Marmol after the game and told him to keep his head up.

"Nobody felt worse than Marmol [on Tuesday], and it's good to have the guy that pitched so well to get the ball to [Marmol] be right there to pick [him] up," Quade said.

The manager said he hoped Marmol would get a chance to pitch in Wednesday's series finale against Houston.

"I'd love to get him back out there," he said. "That's a classic thing. That's not something that's unique to me or anything else. Most managers, you have a valued guy like that and he has a rough night, that's part of being a closer is getting right back out there.

"He's been too good, so yeah, he'll be out there today if the situation presents itself."

Garza on track to rejoin rotation next week

CHICAGO -- Cubs right-hander Matt Garza threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since going on the disabled list May 17 with tightness in his right elbow.

Garza, who threw 30 pitches in the bullpen, will throw one more side session over the weekend in St. Louis before returning to the rotation next week in Cincinnati.

"I'm excited," manager Mike Quade said. "[Garza will return] in Cincinnati. Everything has gone real well. I think it was a good idea [for him to throw a second side session before returning]. I would have loved to see him in St. Louis, but we'll be happy with his start in Cincinnati."

Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins haven't decided how the rotation will change once Garza returns next week.

"We talked about it a couple days ago," Quade said. "There's bullpen issues. There's a lot of different things that go into that. We'll see [Doug Davis'] start today and see where we're at after that. I think there's too many variables between now and then. It's still a week or so away until [Garza returns]. If everything goes [as planned], I think probably in a few days we'll have to start looking at that."

Quade said Rodrigo Lopez, who made his first start for the Cubs on Monday, will be available in the bullpen for the next few days. Lopez, whom Chicago acquired from Atlanta in a trade on May 26, had eight days of rest between his last Minor League start and his Cubs debut.

But Quade said having Lopez available in the bullpen doesn't necessarily mean he will be removed from the rotation.

Big Z shows how he broke bat over his thigh

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Carlos Zambrano demonstrated his bat-breaking technique in the Cubs' dugout before Wednesday's game.

"The thing is to break the bat, not your leg," Zambrano said.

Zambrano broke his bat Tuesday after striking out against Houston's Jordan Lyles. Manager Mike Quade, who looked away before Zambrano slammed his bat over his right thigh, wasn't pleased.

"I told him that next time you're frustrated, just come and whack me upside the head," Quade said Wednesday. "We can survive if I'm injured, but we don't need him hurting himself."

On Wednesday, Zambrano held a bat with that was brown on the barrel and white on the bottom. He said he breaks the bat at the spot where the barrel meets the bottom -- the spot where players typically place their fingers when bunting.

"If you go here," Zambrano said, sliding his hand toward the barrel, "I may end up on the DL."

Despite Zambrano's expertise on the subject, Quade would rather he stop.

"I'd like not to see that be a regular occurrence," Quade said.