Zambrano stars with arm, bat
HOUSTON Carlos Zambrano brushed off the idea that his bad sixth inning on the mound Wednesday night was a result of being worked up after his home run in the top half of the frame.
Zambrano extended a franchise record with his 22nd career homer and ran his winning streak to 10 games, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 9-5 victory and a series win over the Houston Astros.
“It’s not the first time that I hit a home run,” he said. “It’s number 22 for me. I’ve been excited 22 times.”
Alfonso Soriano’s home run off Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) capped a five-run first inning for the Cubs. Zambrano’s homer—his sixth against the Astros—made it 6-0 in the sixth.
Zambrano (2-0) pitched five scoreless innings before the Astros jumped on him for five runs in the sixth. Carlos Lee, Brett Wallace and Bill Hall each drove in a run in the inning before Matt Downs hit a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 6-5.
“I just left some pitches in the middle and got crushed,” he said. “That happens. The most important thing is we won the game today.”
Guillen burns over bullpen
An angry Ozzie Guillen jumped up from his postgame news conference and made a hasty exit. His bullpen had a late-inning meltdown for the third time in less than a week and it was eating at the emotional Chicago White Sox manager.
“I might call Bobby Thigpen to help us,” he said of the former White Sox closer who saved 57 games in 1990.
The White Sox carried a three-run lead into the ninth inning Wednesday, but three relievers struggled as the Oakland Athletics tied the game. They plated three more in the 10th for a 7-4 victory.
“When you have a bad bullpen, that’s what happens. That’s what happens,” Guillen said.
Matt Thornton (0-2), who won the closer’s job in the spring, blew his fourth save in as many chances. The White Sox also let leads slip away last Friday against Tampa Bay—they led by three headed into the ninth before giving up five—and in Monday night’s home opener against the A’s when they led 1-0 after eight before losing 2-1 in 10.
“Oh man,” Thornton said. “There’s nothing to even describe it right now. Frustration is pretty high. … Confidence isn’t the problem. It’s my frustration right now. It’s the most frustrated I’ve been in a long time. I can’t remember a run of games like this where I haven’t gotten the job done that many times in a row.”
Coco Crisp had the go-ahead single in the 10th after Thornton had walked two batters. Daric Barton then had a two-run single.