CINCINNATI – As his slump stretched into mid-May, Jonny Gomes buzzed his usual Mohawk for a more conservative look, trying to do something different. One swing at the end of a big inning gave him a whole new outlook.
Gomes hit his first homer in nearly a month Monday night, completing a seven-run rally that swept the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs, ending Carlos Zambrano's long run of road success.
Zambrano (4-2) had won his last 10 starts on the road, matching the second-longest such streak in Cubs history since 1919. He took a one-hitter into the sixth, then 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 Gomes. The slumping outfielder then hit a two-run shot — his first homer since April 17, back when he still had his distinctive hairstyle.
"If that had anything to do with it, everybody would shave their heads," said Gomes, whose averaged dropped to .183 during the slump. "It's like trading in a used car — it's time for a new one."
The Cubs' mid-game meltdown was so unsettling that manager Mike Quade held a closed-door meeting after the game, venting his frustration over what he called an embarrassing performance all-around. The Cubs (17-22) fell a season-low five games under .500.
"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."
Homer Bailey (3-0) gave up four runs in six innings. Chicago's Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games.
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.
"Even four runs down, I knew we would come back in a big way," Bailey said. "I didn't expect seven runs, but I'll take it. One thing about this club is you always feel like you're in it."
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.
The right-hander was in control through five innings, taking a 4-0 lead into the sixth. Cincinnati put together five hits and a walk to tie it and knock Zambrano out of the game.
"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."
Gomes' seventh homer cleared the wall in right-center and surprised Gomes, who apparently thought the ball had bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. He stopped at second base, then broke into a trot after umpire Laz Diaz twirled his finger in the home run sign.
"That was a big hit for us and a big hit for Jonny's confidence," manager Dusty Baker said. "He hasn't hit one in so long that he forgot how to run."
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.