Cubs win wild one in Pittsburgh

Tribune reporter

It was another adventuresome night for Carlos Zambrano, who Tuesday night became the unofficial league-leader in water cooler tossing, extended his RBI streak to eight games and failed to last five innings for the second time in August.

But Zambrano's Oscar-worthy performance in the dugout after he gave up three runs in the first inning was just the appetizer in a wild 14-9 victory over Pittsburgh in a game that lasted nearly four hours.

"It really wasn't one of our better games," manager Lou Piniella said. "But, look, it's in the win column, and that's what you care about."

In the end, Geovany Soto stole the show with a career-high seven RBIs, including the second of two three-run doubles in the Cubs' seven-run eighth. Soto's solo homer in the sixth, his 20th, gave him the franchise record for homers by a rookie catcher.

A pair of bases-loaded walks to Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez started the seven-run eighth that put the Cubs ahead for keeps, and Soto's three-run double turned it into a romp.

"Soto is just a clutch hitter," Piniella said.

Zambrano allowed three runs before attacking the Gatorade container and kicking items around in the dugout. It was vintage Zambrano, who previously this year had tossed a gum tray in Washington and a couple of water coolers in Los Angeles, broke a bat over his knee and punched a hole in a wall near his locker at Wrigley Field.

"You know what, I can be upset in one batter, one inning, and it's over," Zambrano said. "As soon as the game is over, it's over for me too."

Soto credited Zambrano for battling on a day he didn't have his best stuff. But after the Cubs came back to take a 6-4 lead, Zambrano gave up two singles, a walk and an RBI double to Jack Wilson in the fifth. Piniella, who typically walks at a snail's pace when changing a pitcher, actually raced up the dugout steps to yank Zambrano.

"I gave him every opportunity to win," Piniella said. "I was hoping we could get him through the fifth inning, but he couldn't do it."

Zambrano's earned-run average in August rose to 7.42, higher than his 7.06 ERA of last August.

"I want to eliminate August," he said with a grin.

The Cubs seemed destined to lose for most of the evening, especially after Alfonso Soriano dropped another routine fly while doing his "hop" in the sixth—just as he did May 25 in Pittsburgh—leading to Doug Mientkiewicz's go-ahead, two-run triple.

"The hop hasn't bothered him anywhere but here in Pittsburgh," Piniella said.

Soriano had no excuses, and no explanation for his gaffes in Pittsburgh.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "But maybe I have to concentrate more so that doesn't happen again."

But the Cubs bounced back to win a head-shaking game. Piniella could only sit back and laugh at all the strange things he has seen as Cubs manager, a job he's probably open to keeping past 2009.

"I haven't even thought about that," he said. "I'm signed through next year, so there's plenty of time. But this will be my last managing job. … I could still stay in baseball as a consultant. That would be nice. Get me out of the house and keep me occupied a little bit. But there ain't going to be any more managing after this."

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