Reds 6, Cubs 5
CHICAGO (AP)—Lou let loose—finally—after another frustrating loss for the Cubs.
New manager Lou Piniella was already annoyed by the performance of two pitchers in blowing a five-run lead Friday. Then a question at his postgame news conference set him off following a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Asked what was not working for his team that is 3-6 and 0-3 at Wrigley Field, Piniella erupted.
“What the hell do you think isn’t working? You see the damn game,” Piniella said, his voice loud with anger during his first major Cubs meltdown.
Piniella, known to lose his temper over the years, had plenty to be upset about—especially after Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano took a 5-0 lead into the fifth before the Reds scored six times in the inning.
Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. had consecutive RBI hits during the surprising rally, and the Reds took the lead when Chicago reliever Will Ohman walked back-to-back batters with the bases loaded.
It was Chicago’s fourth straight loss overall.
Griffey played for Piniella in Seattle and knows all about his intensity and passion for winning.
“I’ve been on that side with him where things didn’t go his way,” Griffey said. “He let everybody know. All he wants you to do is go out there and play hard.”
What Piniella really wants is some wins, especially when he’s leading by five runs.
This is a team that was rebuilt with $300 million allotted to salaries in the offseason and one hoping to win a World Series for the first time since 1908.
“This guy is your ace, you got a 5-0 lead with the eighth and ninth hitters coming up, you feel pretty good about that inning and all of a sudden it turns into a six-run inning,” Piniella said, obviously agitated.
“And then I bring in the reliever who’s throwing 30-to-40-foot curveballs to boot. I can see. I can start to see some of the ways this team has lost ballgames. I can see it. We’ve got to correct it obviously. … This game here is one that got away from us that really shouldn’t.”
Zambrano (1-2) was coasting after allowing just one hit in the first four innings and providing a good chunk of the offense. He doubled in the second and scored and then hit Aaron Harang’s first pitch of the bottom of the fourth for a homer to left-center.
But Zambrano’s day unraveled quickly.
“When I came in in the fifth inning I told one guy who was inside, I said, `Man that happened so quick,”’ Zambrano said.
Juan Castro led off with a single and then the Cubs got a big scare when Alfonso Soriano, their $136 million center fielder, collided with second baseman Ronny Cedeno as they chased pinch-hitter Chad Moeller’s bloop single. Cedeno went down and undercut Soriano as he was racing in, but neither player was injured.
Zambrano walked Brandon Phillips, loading the bases. Hamilton hit a two-run single, Dunn followed with a run-scoring single and Griffey doubled in another run, cutting the lead to 5-4.
When Zambrano hit Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch to reload the bases, he was replaced by Ohman, who walked Scott Hatteberg and Javier Valentin to force in two runs and give the Reds a 6-5 lead. Michael Wuertz shut off the rally by striking out three straight batters with the bases still loaded.
“I just tried to do what I can,” Griffey said. “I was able to get (a hit) to right field and get a run across. But the key at-bats were just the guys trying to be patient and making Zambrano throw a lot of pitches and get to the bullpen.”
Zambrano, whose negotiations for a multiyear contract extension have apparently slowed after it was announced the Cubs would be sold at season’s end, gave up six hits and six runs in four-plus innings.
Harang, who beat Zambrano in the season opener at Cincinnati, allowed nine hits and five runs in four innings. He was not feeling well.
“It’s all the head cold stuff that seems to be going around. It doesn’t help with the change in weather,” Harang said.
The Cubs jumped on Harang with four straight first-inning hits, all with two outs. Jacque Jones singled, stole second and scored on Derrek Lee’s RBI double. Michael Barrett followed with a run-scoring single and Cliff Floyd added another before the side was retired.
Theriot had a two-out RBI single to score Zambrano in the second. After Soriano’s fly ball was apparently lost in the sun by center fielder Hamilton and went for a double, he scored on a single by Theriot that made it 5-0 in the fourth.
Harang entered the game with a 6-1 career record against the Cubs. … Zambrano’s homer was the 11th of his career and tied him with Charlie Root for third place on the Cubs’ career list for pitchers. Zambrano hit six homers last season. … Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez missed the game with a swollen right wrist. X-rays were negative and he also had an arthrogram, results of which will be released Saturday. The diagnosis Friday was tendinitis.