Lou Piniella was on the mound making a pitching change Saturday at Dodger Stadium when he heard a roar coming from the first base side.
"I heard all this commotion and I thought there was a wave going on," the Cubs manager said. "But there was no wave."
The noise Piniella heard came from starter Carlos Zambrano, who did everything but turn green while impersonating the Incredible Hulk in the Cubs dugout.
After allowing seven runs and a career-high-equaling 13 hits in a 7-3 loss to the Dodgers, Zambrano proceeded to make a scene that was off the charts even by his lofty standards, kicking and throwing two water coolers before stomping off toward the clubhouse.
"It was just frustration, that's all," Piniella said. "He competes and he wants to win. As long as he doesn't hurt himself, that's all we care about."
Zambrano, after losing for the first time in 11 starts and having a seven-game winning streak stopped, insisted it was not a show of frustration at all.
"I don't use that word," he said. "I don't know what that is."
Then what was the reason for the display?
"I just make a mistake, that's it," he said. "When you make a mistake in the big leagues, you pay for it."
Matt Kemp's three-run homer ignited Zambrano's fuse and pushed the Dodgers' lead to 7-3 in a five-run seventh inning, but several defensive gaffes preceded the bizarre scene.
Ryan Theriot dropped a throw that would have nailed Juan Pierre as he attempted to steal second base. Aramis Ramirez allowed the tying run to score with a throwing error on an Andre Ethier grounder. And Kosuke Fukudome misplayed Russell Martin's line shot to right that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead instead of ending the inning.
"It wasn't a good inning," Piniella acknowledged. "We seemed to self-destruct."
After another bloop single, pitching coach Larry Rothschild came out to calm Zambrano down. It didn't work.
Kemp promptly homered, sending Zambrano into orbit. After Piniella removed him, Zambrano put on a show that figures to be one of his highest-rated YouTube moments in a career full of them.
Zambrano first grabbed a cooler and began kicking it, then picked it up and slammed it down with both hands. Then he picked up a second cooler, kicked it around and tossed it aside. Capping off the display with a flourish, Zambrano tossed his cap to the ground before taking his act into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. Zambrano tried to downplay the incident, saying he was angry at himself.
"If I have to blame somebody, I blame myself," Zambrano said. "It's my fault. Let's move on. My next start is against the Blue Jays, and it will be different."
The Cubs lost their second straight after starting the trip 3-1, managing only six hits off Derek Lowe and two relievers. They're the only team in the majors that hasn't endured a losing streak of more than two games, and they'll send Jason Marquis to the mound Sunday night in the series finale.
"Sometimes you get into these things where nothing goes right, and everything goes right for the opposing team," Piniella said. "It happens. It has happened to us.
"The only thing is, it has happened to us more on the road. At home we've stayed away from this. On the road we've had adventures at times that make you scratch your head. But it's only one ballgame."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun