Cubs 11, Reds 4
CINCINNATI (AP)—Carlos Zambrano even talks like a hitter.
“I don’t try to hit home runs at all,” Zambrano said, reciting the power hitter’s mantra.
They keep coming, though, just like the Reds’ ugly losses.
The Cubs took advantage of six errors by the Reds, their worst defensive game in 35 years. Cincinnati led the NL wild-card race for 46 consecutive days before unraveling in the last month.
“It was ugly all around,” said Kyle Lohse, who gave up the Cubs’ two homers.
Ramirez hit a two-run drive in the first inning that was his 36th of the season, matching his career high. Ramirez also has driven in a career-high 113 runs.
Zambrano (16-6) gave up four runs in seven innings while matching his career high for victories. The hard-swinging pitcher also started a five-run rally in the fourth with a notable homer that came off a good guess.
His 420-foot shot off Lohse matched Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins’ team record of six homers in 1971. Zambrano’s last two hits have been homers off the Reds—he hit one against Sun-Woo Kim on Sept. 17 at Wrigley Field.
This time, Zambrano fell behind in the count 1-2, then correctly predicted that Lohse would try to put him away with an off-speed pitch.
“Two things can happen,” Zambrano said. “He can try to strike me out on a fastball, or I can sit on a changeup. That’s what happened. I was looking for a changeup and I got it. I got lucky.”
Lohse (2-5) was out of the game after giving up Zambrano’s leadoff homer in the fourth. The right-hander was out of sync from the outset—he thought the game was going to start later because of rain, but it let up.
“I didn’t get it going,” Lohse said. “You’ve still got to be ready to go out there. I just didn’t have the feel.”
Neither did his fielders. The Reds hadn’t committed six errors in a game since April 5, 1971, against Atlanta. Third baseman Woody Woodward had three of the six that day.
The Cubs started the season with a $94.8 million payroll—third-largest in the National League—and hopes of contending in the weakened NL Central. They won the season opener in Cincinnati 16-7, a good start for everyone except Zambrano.
The emotional pitcher lasted only 4 2-3 innings in the opener, struggling despite a 5-0 lead. Pitching in the same ballpark five months later, he had to regain his focus to get win No. 16.
Zambrano was upset after giving up Brandon Phillips’ three-run homer in the second inning on a pitch down the middle. Phillips had been in a 1-for-20 slump.
“I made one mistake,” Zambrano said. “I said, ‘That’s enough.”’
Between innings, Zambrano paced in the dugout, pointing to the left side of his forehead while talking to himself. The talk worked—the right-hander gave up only two more hits the rest of the way.
“Other than that one inning, he was Mr. Everything,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Chicago remained at 92 losses for the season, its fifth 90-loss season in the last 10 years.
Besides the six errors, the Reds had a runner picked off second base in their sloppiest game of the season. They moved within a percentage point of first place in the NL Central on Aug. 24, but have gone 8-18 since to drop out of contention.
The game started 9 minutes late because of rain. … Zambrano has 201 strikeouts, one shy of his career high set last season. … Mabry’s RBI single in the fourth snapped an 0-for-12 slump. … The Reds made five errors against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 12, their previous season high. … Lohse is 2-5 in 10 starts for the Reds with a 4.82 ERA. … CF Ken Griffey Jr. has been out of the Reds’ lineup for 16 games since dislocating a toe on his right foot.