Mike Quade couldn't let this meltdown pass without having his say.
The Cubs manager called a closed-door meeting following a 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night that dropped Chicago (17-22) to a season-low five games under .500 and left Quade fuming over a long list of shortcomings in every area.
He called it embarrassing.
"You get beat, you get beat," Quade said. "But we're beating ourselves way too much, and we've got enough issues competing as it is without beating ourselves. When I see that, if I'm going to lose sleep, I'm going to have my say before I do, that's all."
Until the sixth, the Cubs seemed to be in control. Carlos Zambrano (4-2) was throwing a one-hitter, had a four-run lead and appeared ready to add to his long run of road success. He had won his last 10 starts on the road, matching the second-longest such streak in Cubs history since 1919.
Then, he fell apart.
The Reds sent 12 batters to the plate, matching their biggest inning this season. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano misplayed Scott Rolen's fly into a double that tied it at 4. Marcos Mateo let in a run with a wild pitch that nearly hit Jonny Gomes. The slumping outfielder then hit a two-run shot — his first homer since April 17 — for a 7-4 lead.
"You all saw what happened," Zambrano said. "It's disappointing for me. It was all my fault. I mean, we played good for four or five innings. If I consider myself a good pitcher, I should be able to keep the score like that. I'm disappointed in myself."
Quade was disappointed in how his team responded all-around, including himself in his criticism.
"Just little things — baserunning, a little defense, a little pitching," Quade said. "Nothing's easy up here. You've got a nice 4-0 lead and Z's cruising and everything's hunky-dory. I've got news for you: It ain't routine till the thing is over. We've just got to play that way.
"We're not good enough to coast at all in any aspect, any of us."
Outfielder Marlon Byrd wasn't surprised by Quade's tone.
"We're not playing up to our capabilities, so enough is enough," said Byrd, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games. "You can only watch that for so long. We have to start doing better."
Homer Bailey (3-0) gave up four runs in six innings. The Reds held the lead with good defense and solid relief. Center fielder Drew Stubbs threw Soriano out at the plate in the eighth when he tried to score from second on Byrd's single. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances.
The NL Central leaders have won 10 of 12, a streak that coincides with Bailey and Johnny Cueto coming off the disabled list and returning to the rotation. Reds starters are 8-0 with a 2.20 ERA during the surge.
No one's been better on the road than Zambrano, who hadn't lost away from Wrigley Field since June 25. Zambrano was supposed to pitch Sunday at Wrigley Field against the Giants. The game was rained out, allowing him to hit the road.
Zambrano had won his last five starts at Great American Ball Park in dominating fashion, allowing a total of three earned runs. He gave up twice as many in one inning on Monday.
Darwin Barney had an RBI single off Bailey, and Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer that put the Cubs ahead 4-0. Barney had three hits, leaving him 8 for 12 in his last three games. His .345 average leads all major league rookies.
NOTES: Cubs C Koyie Hill made his seventh start. ... Bailey walked three and struck out three in a scoreless first inning. Reds starters have retired the side in order in the first inning only eight times in 41 games this season. ... Rolen has three errors at 3B in his four games since returning from the DL. He's 8 for 17 at the plate. ... The Reds placed LH Aroldis Chapman on the 15-day DL and recalled RH reliever Jordan Smith. Chapman has been wild in his last four starts. An MRI detected inflammation in his pitching shoulder.