MILWAUKEE—Carlos Zambrano did his usual finger-pointing routine while walking off the mound after his cameo appearance Wednesday night at Miller Park.
Instead of pointing at the sky, however, Zambrano should have been pointing at himself.
In the briefest outing of his major-league career, Zambrano was knocked out during an eight-run, second inning of a 9-4 loss to Milwaukee, silencing a pro-Cubs crowd of 41,453.
"Sooner or later you're going to have a game like this," Zambrano said. "I'm not a perfect machine. I'm not a perfect pitcher. I know that sometimes in my career I'll have a game like this, along with games you throw nine or eight innings. Let's move on."
The eight runs allowed was a career high for Zambrano, who has a 12.46 ERA with 10 walks and 13 strikeouts in 13 combined innings over his last three starts. His record dropped to 4-4, while his ERA climbed to a season-high 4.27.
"I don't care how hard you throw," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's tough to make your living down the heart of the plate."
Carlos Lee homered twice and drove in four runs for the Brewers, moving past Derrek Lee in the National League RBI race, 64-61.
The Cubs had their two-game winning streak snapped, losing for the seventh time in 10 games. The Cubs' staff has a 5.35 ERA in June, going 10-10 in the month. The Crazy 8 the Brewers posted against Zambrano in the second started off innocently enough, with back-to-back singles by Lee and Bill Hall. Zambrano struck out Geoff Jenkins and got ahead of Rickie Weeks 1-2 before Weeks blooped an RBI single over shortstop Neifi Perez's head to make it 1-0.
After a walk to Damian Miller, Brewers pitcher Doug Davis, who was 2-for-29 coming into the game, slapped at a 2-2 fastball for a two-run double over first base.
Brady Clark followed with another bloop, RBI single, and Lyle Overbay singled with two outs to keep the inning alive. Lee came to the plate for the second time in the inning and lined the first pitch over the left field wall for a three-run homer, ending Zambrano's night.
"The only ball they hit hard was [by] Carlos Lee," Zambrano said. "There's nothing you can do when you give up cheap hits like that."
The Cubs made a belated rally with a three-run sixth off Davis (9-6), but the game was never in doubt. Rookie left-hander Rich Hill held the fort into the seventh, throwing 41/3 hitless innings in relief to show he has the kind of stuff to join the Cubs' starting rotation.
Hill probably won't get that chance with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood returning from the disabled list in the next week, unless the Cubs move Glendon Rusch back to the bullpen. Joe Borowski didn't help his chances of sticking around, serving up a solo 396-foot homer to Lee in the seventh.
The Cubs are in the market for some outfield help and the recent trip has only intensified general manager Jim Hendry's search. Todd Hollandsworth and Jason Dubois are a combined 7-for-30 with three RBIs on the trip, while Corey Patterson is 4-for-23 with no RBIs.
"You're always looking to improve yourself," Baker said. "You just don't make a trade to be making it. Hopefully some guys pick it up here in the next couple weeks, as certain positions that people are talking about improve."
While the Cubs figure to remain in the wild-card playoff hunt as long as parity reigns in the NL, their lack of consistency is maddening.
"The only reason why people are talking about trades in the first place is some of the guys have gotten off to slower starts than we anticipated," Baker said, before uttering a line that could have been used by Yogi Berra.
"They still have time," he said. "Some of the best trades you ever made are those you never make."