Zambrano hopes to atone for another dismal outing, as well as for his off-the-field conduct Wednesday when the Cubs conclude a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In what has been a very disappointing first two months of the season for the Cubs (24-32), the low point came Friday in an 8-5 loss to Atlanta as Zambrano (5-5, 5.62 ERA) and Barrett fought in the dugout in the fifth inning.
The confrontation continued in the clubhouse, where Barrett suffered a cut lip. He was supposed to stay in the game, but instead was taken to a hospital for treatment.
“It’s all my fault, that’s all I can say,” Zambrano said on the Cubs’ official Web site. “I feel bad for that because I have to be in control of myself. I was frustrated, we had a little discussion and it went into a fight. Like I said, It’s all my fault.”
Zambrano is expected to pitch to backup Koyie Hill, with Barrett getting the day off after playing Tuesday night.
“In the future, Barrett will catch Zambrano,” said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who will serve the final game of a four-game suspension for making contact with an umpire during an argument over a call at third base on Saturday.
Chicago won its first two games without Piniella, as bench coach Alan Trammell managed the team to a win over Atlanta on Sunday and a 7-2 series-opening victory Monday over the Brewers (33-26).
The Cubs, however, were unable to sustain that momentum, losing 7-5 on Tuesday. It was the 10th loss in 14 games for Chicago, which hasn’t won a series since taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox May 18-20.
“We didn’t fold,” Trammell said. “That’s a good sign.”
Zambrano’s fight with Barrett overshadowed another poor outing for the Cubs’ ace. He allowed seven runs and a career-high 13 hits in five innings with two walks and no strikeouts. It was the sixth time in 12 starts that the right-hander gave up five or more runs.
Zambrano, though, has pitched well in two starts this season against the Brewers, going 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA. He is 8-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 17 career starts against Milwaukee.
The Brewers lead the NL with 77 home runs.
“We found a way to put some balls in the stands,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
With a right-hander on the mound, Geoff Jenkins figures to be back in the lineup for the Brewers. Jenkins was struck on the right ankle by a pitch Monday night, but didn’t play Tuesday because the Cubs started left-hander Ted Lilly.
Jenkins is one of the few Brewers with any success against Zambrano, going 12-for-41 (.293) with two home runs.
Jeff Suppan (7-5, 3.71) looks to win his fifth straight home start for the Brewers. Since losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 4, Suppan is 4-0 with a 3.26 ERA at Miller Park. He allowed four runs and six hits over seven innings Friday in a 5-4 victory over Florida.
Suppan was outstanding in a 4-1 win over the Cubs on April 24, yielding eight hits in eight scoreless innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
He is 5-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 14 career starts against the Cubs, but hasn’t fared too well against Derrek Lee, who is batting .484 (15-for-31) with three homers against the right-hander.