- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano went ballistic on the team, and particularly teammate Carlos Marmol, after another crushing loss resulted in a St. Louis Cardinals' sweep on Sunday.
Albert Pujols hit his second walk-off home run in as many games -- this time in the 10th inning off Rodrigo Lopez -- but Zambrano placed the blame squarely on Marmol for allowing a game-tying double to former Cub Ryan Theriot on a flat slider with two outs in the ninth.
"The problem wasn't Pujols," Zambrano said. "The problem was [Theriot's] at-bat. We should have known better than this. We are playing like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing, that's the word for this team."
"We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter," Zambrano yelled after turning in the direction of Marmol's then-vacated locker. "We should know that as a team. We should play better here. We stink. That's all I've got to say."
Marmol, when approached for the second time by reporters, was surprised to hear that Zambrano had pointed the finger at him.
"I don't know what's going on," Marmol said.
Zambrano threw seven innings on Sunday, allowing just one run on five hits, but got a no-decision after Theriot's double down the left field line sent the game into extra innings.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was not pleased with Zambrano's reaction.
"Marmol has been outstanding for us for a long time," Hendry said. "He's just going through a rough patch right now. Everybody is frustrated [with losing]. Sometimes things boil over but you have to be a better teammate than that."
Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said he suggested Marmol throw a fastball to Theriot, but Marmol shook him off and asked to throw the slider.
"I think he's obviously frustrated," Hill said about Zambrano. "At some point you get tired of just saying, 'You have to play hard and keep playing hard.' Eventually you just say something else.
"I don't think he means that the guys are Triple-A players or dogging it. I don't think he means that at all. But when you put together a string [of losses] like we have, you might think a Triple-A team would give us a run for our money. It's funny, but there's a big difference between being frustrated and being discouraged, in my opinion."
Theriot, a former Cub, said he felt for Zambrano.
"It's got to be frustrating," Theriot said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Z's pitched really good his last two outings and doesn't have much to show for it. I'm sure he's frustrated.
"[Zambrano] is an incredible competitor and someone who really, really wants to win every time he's out there. It's one of his great assets. It's one of his best attributes is his competitiveness. He wants to win. It just has to be frustrating. I feel for those guys."
Theriot also said he understood why Marmol went with the slider, and that it's OK with him if pitchers feed him a diet of fastballs.
"I kinda like it. I hope everybody throws me fastballs now," Theriot said. "If you look at the numbers, and I'm not sure what they are, but I'm relatively positive that I would say 90 percent of my hits are on fastballs.
"It's always easy to [second guess pitches] that after the fact. I think Carlos' best pitch is his slider. It's one of the best in the game. I don't blame him for sticking with his best pitch at that point. It just worked out in our favor at this time."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.