ATLANTA (AP)— Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade said pitcher Carlos Zambrano cleaned out his locker and “walked out” on the team after giving up five homers in Friday night’s 10-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Quade said Zambrano was talking about ending his playing career.
“I’m really disappointed,” Quade said. “His locker is empty. He walked out on 24 guys … I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing.
“He’s talking about retiring … but I can’t have a guy walking out on 24 guys.”
Zambrano was ejected by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the fifth inning after throwing two inside pitches to Chipper Jones, the second going all the way to the backstop. The brushback pitches followed homers by Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.
Jones and Jose Constanza also connected against Zambrano (9-7), who gave up eight runs and eight hits. The five homers allowed set a career high.
Quade said he didn’t talk with Zambrano.
“I’m running a ballgame and I’ve got 24 guys I care about, so I didn’t have time to speak to him,” Quade said. “I come in here and I see an empty locker. I figure he’s decided he’s had enough.”
When asked if Zambrano would be welcome back, Quade said, “I don’t know.”
“All I know is, it was a bad night,” Quade said. “And that’s allowed.
“He had a bad night. But he had a real bad night after it was over. You don’t leave your teammates.”
Outfielder Marlon Byrd said he would reach out to Zambrano.
“Hopefully the rumors aren’t true and he’ll be back tomorrow and we can talk about it,” Byrd said.
Byrd said he didn’t think Zambrano walked out on him.
“If he goes home for good, then it’s a different story,” Byrd said.
Freeman and Uggla hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to give Atlanta an 8-1 lead. Following a visit from pitching coach Mark Riggins, Zambrano threw one pitch inside to Jones and was immediately tossed after the Atlanta star had to jump back to avoid another inside pitch.
As Jones stood at the plate, staring at Zambrano, the Braves came out of their dugout. Timmons rushed toward the dugout, cautioning the players not to come out any farther.
Zambrano looked back at Jones as he walked off the field, then was shown on TV smiling before leaving the dugout for the clubhouse.
Zambrano dropped to 2-5 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 career starts against Atlanta. The right-hander has dropped his last five decisions against the Braves.
Starlin Castro homered and Alfonso Soriano had two RBIs for the Cubs, who had won nine of 11.
Uggla went 3 for 3 and scored three times. His streak, which began on July 5, is the longest in the majors this season. He has raised his batting average from .173 to .229.
Tommy Holmes holds the franchise record with a 37-game hitting streak as a member of the Boston Braves in 1945.
Atlanta grabbed control with three runs in the third. Zambrano retired the first two batters before Freeman singled and Uggla was hit by a pitch. Jones then hit a drive to center for his 10th homer, making it 5-1.
Atlanta rookie Mike Minor (2-2) gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits in the sixth, including a two-run double by Soriano. Braves left fielder Martin Prado almost caught Soriano’s drive, but the ball bounced out of his glove when he crashed into the wall.
NOTES: Uggla entered Friday night’s game batting .355 (44 for 124) with 12 homers and 29 RBIs during the streak, but only .224 overall. … The Cubs announced they have agreed to terms with first baseman Trevor Gretzky, the son of former hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Trevor Gretzky, 18, was a seventh-round pick from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High School. … Braves C Brian McCann (strained left oblique) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. He was to have one game as a designated hitter, one game as a catcher and then possibly come off the disabled list on Sunday. … Jones’ homer was his 1,000th extra-base hit. … Attendance was 50,146.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)