Carlos Zambrano leaves the dugout at the end of the Reds’ seven-run sixth inning Monday. He was charged with six of those runs. | Al Behrman~AP
Updated: August 30, 2011 12:16AM
CINCINNATI — It took Cubs manager Mike Quade six weeks to run out of silver linings.
He is fed up with his players’ poor decisions and, at times, worse play and finally let them know it after a 7-4 loss Monday to the Cincinnati Reds to open a three-city trip.
‘‘You get beat, you struggle, but that was embarrassing,’’ said Quade, who called a team meeting after watching a 4-0 lead that should have been bigger disappear in an avalanche of hits and walks in the Reds’ seven-run sixth inning. ‘‘That s---’s got to stop.
‘‘It’s everybody that was in that room for that meeting — myself, the players and the coaching staff.’’
Through the first out of the Reds’ sixth, the Cubs looked to be in control, with starter Carlos Zambrano sailing along with a one-hit shutout.
But a bases-loaded, one-out situation that came up empty in the first and Koyie Hill getting caught between third and home for the first out in the fifth cost the Cubs a chance to have an even more commanding lead.
After the Reds’ big sixth, already-criticized third-base coach Ivan DeJesus sent Alfonso Soriano home from second on Marlon Byrd’s single with nobody out in the eighth. Sori-
ano was thrown out in an inning that went nowhere.
‘‘Nothing’s f---ing easy up here,’’ Quade said. ‘‘You’ve got a nice 4-0 lead, Z’s cruising and everything’s hunky-dory. I got f---ing news for you: It ain’t routine till the freaking thing is over.
‘‘We’ve got to make damn sure we’re looking for every opportunity to add on when we get a chance and we’re looking for every opportunity to close things out when we get the chance. We’re not good enough to coast at all. Any aspect of the game. Any of us.’’
Zambrano (4-2) took the blame for not holding the four-run lead. He allowed six consecutive batters to reach base — on five hits and a walk — with one out in the sixth before reliever Marcos Mateo fanned the flames by throwing a run-scoring wild pitch and serving up a two-run home run to Jonny Gomes.
‘‘It was all my fault,’’ said Zambrano, who called the walk to Edgar Renteria ‘‘unacceptable’’ and said that was the reason for his arm-waving gestures in the dugout after being taken out of the game. ‘‘My team played good today. I let my teammates down the way I pitched that last inning. It’s unacceptable. If you want to blame somebody for
today’s game, blame me, not my teammates.’’
As Quade pointed out, there was plenty of blame to go around — on this day and for much of the first six weeks of the season.
One result is that the Cubs hit their low-water mark of the season to date. They are five games below .500 — exactly where they stood through the same number of games last season.
And we all know how that one turned out.
‘‘You get beat, you get beat,’’ Quade said. ‘‘But we’re beating ourselves way too much. We’ve got enough issues competing as it is without beating ourselves. And if I’m going to lose sleep, I’m going to have my say before I do.’’
The Cubs rank near the bottom of the majors in pitching, reverted to their seasonlong poor form with runners in scoring position Monday and rank near the bottom of the
National League in fielding.
‘‘Enough is enough,’’ said center fielder Marlon Byrd, who had two hits but hasn’t had an RBI since
May 4. ‘‘You can only watch it for
‘‘We have to start doing better, starting with myself. Our veterans need to step up, and it has to start with me.’’