MLB suspended Zambrano six games and fined him $3,000 for his "inappropriate and violent" actions in Wednesday's game against the Pirates. Zambrano was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Mark Carlson.
The two men made contact, which the Cubs maintain Carlson initiated. However, Zambrano engaged in histrionics after the ejection. He pretended to throw Carlson out of the game. He threw the ball into left-center field before flinging his glove to the dugout fence. He finished by taking a bat to the Gatorade fountain in the dugout.
"When you make a mistake, when you do something wrong, you have to pay for it," Zambrano said.
The Cubs said they agreed with the MLB ruling. Zambrano will be eligible to pitch again Thursday in Atlanta. Manager Lou Piniella noted that the suspension will hurt the Cubs because not only will they lose their ace pitcher for one turn, but Zambrano is a frequent pinch hitter.
DODGERS 2, CUBS 1: The Cubs out-hit the Dodgers 9-8 but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Bobby Scales provided the run with a pinch homer in the eighth. RHP Randy Wells was the tough-luck loser, going seven innings and giving up both runs.
NEWS AND NOTES
--LHP Ted Lilly was not suspended, but he was fined $1,500 for getting ejected Monday night for arguing balls and strikes with umpire Bob Davidson. Lilly was not in the game, and he jumped over the dugout fence to get at Davidson.
--Wells has turned in two of the Cubs' last three quality starts. Wells gave up eight hits and two runs in seven innings Thursday. He walked only one and struck out seven. Wells has worked six or more innings in each of his last three starts, including seven each in his last two starts.
--INF/OF Ryan Freel went on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Freel said he won't need more than the 15-day DL time to be ready to play again.
--Scales was recalled from Class AAA Iowa. The Cubs sent Scales to Iowa on Wednesday, but because of an injury to Freel, they were able to recall him immediately.
--RHP Rich Harden played catch in what Piniella called a "first test" that Harden "passed with flying colors." Harden has been on the disabled list, retroactive to May 18, with a mid-back strain. Harden is eligible to come off the DL next week when the Cubs are in Atlanta. It's unlikely, however, he'll be ready.
--INF Jake Fox, recalled from Iowa on Wednesday, took grounders at third base again Thursday. Fox tore up Class AAA, but Piniella isn't ready to start him at third base. Fox has been known as a good hitter who has problems in the field. Fox is working with infield coach Alan Trammell.
--RF Milton Bradley walked and bunted for a base hit. He has reached base with a walk or a hit in each of his last three games.
SACRAMENTO 9, IOWA 1 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, the Cubs (23-23) were out-hit, 14-3, in the loss Thursday. CF Sam Fuld (1-for-3) tripled and drove in the Cubs’ only run. RHP Esmailin Caridad (3-5) started and suffered the loss, allowing three earned runs on seven hits in six innings. It was his fourth straight losing decision. RHP Greg Reinhard was charged with five runs to six batters faced in relief and did not record an out.
HUNTSVILLE 3, TENNESSEE 1 – GAME 1 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, the Smokies were held to five hits in the seven-inning loss Thursday. C Blake Lalli (2-for-3) continued his hot hitting and paced the offense with two hits. 1B Russ Canzler (1-for-2, walk) singled and drove in the Smokies’ only run. Tennessee batters drew five walks in the loss. RHP Casey Coleman (4-2) started and suffered the loss, allowing all three Stars runs and seven hits in seven complete innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.
HUNTSVILLE 11, TENNESSEE 5 – GAME 2
The Stars scored nine unanswered runs to complete a doubleheader sweep. RF Jim Adduci (2-for-3) led the Smokies’ (21-26) offense with two hits, and 3B Marquez Smith (1-for-2) drove in three runs. Tennessee used four pitchers with LHP John Gaub (2-1) suffering the loss in relief. He allowed two runs and one hit in one inning of relief. RHP Jesse Estrada started and received a no-decision, allowing five runs and seven hits in four innings. He struck out four batters and did not allow a walk.
PALM BEACH 3, DAYTONA 2 (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Jupiter, Fla., the Cubs (19-22) held the Cardinals to four hits in the loss Thursday. Four Daytona players recorded two hits: CF Tony Campana (2-for-3, walk), SS Starlin Castro (2-for-4), LF Tyler Colvin (2-for-2, two RBI) and C Robinson Chirinos (2-for-4). Castro is batting .384 in May and .297 overall this season. The Cubs recorded nine hits but stranded seven on base. LHP James Leverton (2-5) started and received the loss. He allowed three runs and two hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking four batters and recording three strikeouts.
CLINTON 8, PEORIA 3 (CLASS-A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (24-21) were out-hit, 13-8, in the loss Thursday. Peoria fell behind 2-0 early and didn’t get on the board until the fourth inning. After fighting back to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth, the Chiefs were out-scored 6-1 the rest of the way.
Peoria has been held to four runs or less in their last eight games but still lead the Midwest League with a .274 team batting average in 45 games.
“The first pitcher (Blake Nation) was a fastball pitcher and we weren’t hitting the fastball,” Peoria manager Marty Pevey said. “Our first six outs were routine flyball outs. We are not getting the barrel to the ball right now. We have to do a better job than that. You have to get the job done; this is pro ball.”
3B Josh Vitters (1-for-4) singled to extend his hit streak to seven consecutive games and has hit safely in 21 of 26 games this month for a .400 average in May and a .362 mark overall this season.
LF Kyler Burke (1-for-3) hit his 19th double, the most in the Cubs’ system and tied for second in all of minor league baseball. C Michael Brenly (2-for-4) added two hits.
The Chiefs have dropped five of their last eight games and trail first-place Kane County by four games in the Midwest League’s Western Division.
After Thursday’s game, Pevey praised his team’s work ethic but said the Chiefs must start finding ways to win.
“This team is diligent,” he said. “They get in the gym every other day. They get up at 9 in the morning to be at the stadium by 10. They do their work. That’s the main thing to me. In August and September, they’re going to be strong.
“But they’ve got to learn they have to get it done. There are no excuses. Even though this is a learning level, you’ve got to learn to win. Not preparation, but production. They’re prepared, but now they have to start producing.”
InsideTheIvy.com correspondent Adam Franey in Peoria contributed reporting.
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