08/09/08 8:42 PM ET
Homers prompt rare home loss for Big Z
Cubs starter defeated at Wrigley for first time since September
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Troy Glaus belted a two-run homer in the fourth and a three-run blast in the fifth, and Skip Schumaker and Albert Pujols each clubbed solo shots off Zambrano to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 12-3 victory over the Cubs.
"There's no excuse," Zambrano said. "You have to give credit to a good team."
"Unexpected," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Hard to believe. If we win that game, you would think it would have been 3-2, 2-1. He's pitched as well against us as anybody. It's baseball. You can never figure anything."
It's the first time in 203 career starts that Zambrano (12-5) has given up four home runs and nine earned runs. It also was his first loss at Wrigley Field since Sept. 18, 2007, a span of 13 starts.
"That was a surprise," Alfonso Soriano said of the Cubs' ace. "Everybody's a human being. I think he will learn from what happened today, and I think he'll come back strong."
Zambrano had not given up more than two earned runs to the Cardinals in his last 11 starts against them, dating back to July 19, 2004.
"He was throwing strikes, and that was a good sign," Chicago's Ryan Theriot said. "His demeanor seemed to be good the whole time. As a pitcher, you can't expect to be dominant every time out. You can't be perfect every time. I'm sure next time he's out there, he'll be back to his old self."
"One, his location wasn't good at all," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "That's the hardest I've seen 'Z' get hit the last two years I've been here. I thought he'd throw the ball better. He'd pitched five innings the time before, and this was his sixth day. Look, it happens to anybody. The Cardinals are a good hitting team."
Zambrano didn't have any problems warming up.
|"I lost count -- how many [home runs]? Four? Good for them. Next step is Florida Marlins."|
|-- Carlos Zambrano|
St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the first, when Schumaker doubled off the first pitch from Zambrano and scored two batters later on Ryan Ludwick's single. Mark DeRosa tied it in the Chicago second with his 13th home run, tying his single-season best, set in 2006 while with Texas.
Schumaker smacked his seventh homer with one out in the third, and one batter later, Pujols made it 3-1 with his 24th home run on a pitch Zambrano was trying to jam him with. Zambrano then connected off former teammate Todd Wellemeyer (9-4) for his third homer of the season, and 15th of his career, in the Chicago third.
"My job is pitching," Zambrano said. "My job is go to the mound and pitch six, seven, eight innings. Today, I didn't do my job. Hitting a home run is not a good feeling when you have a bad outing, when the team is paying you to be a pitcher and not a hitter. I didn't enjoy that home run like I would enjoy it on a day I win."
Glaus padded the Cardinals' lead in the fourth when he notched his first home run of the game with one on, much to the delight of the red-dressed fans in the crowd of 41,436. He added his 21st with two on and one out in a four-run fifth inning, which chased Zambrano.
"I think the last time St. Louis did that to me, I think I hit [Jim] Edmonds twice," Zambrano said of that July 2004 game when he was tagged for three home runs, and did hit Edmonds, now his teammate. "When you see a good team hitting good, you just tip your hat and move forward."
The 12 runs matched the most given up by the Cubs this year. Zambrano was ready to go home, get some rest and move on.
"I lost count -- how many [home runs]? Four? Good for them," he said. "Next step is Florida Marlins."
"We just got beat," Chicago's Derrek Lee said. "We just have to come back and try to win the series."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.