Nearly one year after his dugout blowup, Carlos Zambrano's return to U.S. Cellular Field started off in a similar fashion to his last trip to the South Side -- with a rocky first inning.
The Cubs starter allowed the White Sox three first-inning runs in Monday’s Crosstown Classic opener, including a two-run home run off the bat of first baseman Paul Konerko.
But unlike last season, when Zambrano screamed at teammate Derrek Lee after a four-run first, was sent home from the game and received an indefinite suspension, this time Zambrano kept his cool, coming back with seven shutout innings to win his sixth game of the season, 6-3 over the White Sox.
The Cubs pitcher was asked if attending anger management sessions made him into a different person.
“Have you seen the movie Rocky IV?” Zambrano asked. “He was fighting in Russia, I think. He said it was never too late for people to change. Over the years, you make a mistake because you are human. I’m human, everybody can make a mistake.
“Some of you guys make mistakes. Am I right?” Zambrano continued, drawing laughter from the media. “Sometimes you say things and say, ‘I shouldn’t have made that comment.’ The most important thing to do is apologize, be a better person, be a better teammate. And be a better player with what you do on the field.”
Zambrano has now won more interleague games (nine) than any Cubs pitcher since interleague play began in 1997.
“So much has been made about (Zambrano’s) emotional stuff,” Quade said. “He was relaxed. He felt good, and he handled himself great. After the first inning, he really went to work. There’s been a lot of stuff said about him, but he deserves so much credit for what he did tonight.”
Carlos Pena’s three-run home run in the sixth was the eventual game-winner.
“It was nice to come out with a win,” Pena said. “And it was very intense out there. The fans were into it. And now we get to enjoy the win. Z did a great job for us tonight.”
Zambrano’s win was his first over the White Sox since June 22, 2007.