Zambrano was ejected in the fifth inning Tuesday night after hitting Kearns in the backside, and did not get a decision in the Reds' 11-9 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Zambrano had served up a solo homer to Adam Dunn before plunking Kearns, and Welke immediately tossed the Cubs pitcher. No warning had been given to either team.
"I don't think it was intentional," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "The timing looked bad after the home run."
"Zambrano threw a four-seamer right at me, right at my back," Kearns said. "He has one of the best sinkers in the game. For him to throw a four-seamer right at me is not a mistake."
Apparently Welke agreed. The Cubs will wait for a decision from Major League Baseball regarding Zambrano, who was ejected in the season opener. In that game, he yelled at umpire Dale Scott, saying he needed glasses.
Zambrano blamed Tuesday's problems on a lingering blister on his right index finger, which forced him out of his last start when he was one out away from a complete game.
"I was wild today," said Zambrano, who gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. "I still have the blister on my hand. I was throwing inside all night long. I was surprised he kicked me out."
There's no history between Kearns and Zambrano.
"I have nothing against Austin Kearns," Zambrano said. "We talked before the game. I have to throw inside and the ball went out of my hand. The blister is still bothering me."
Injuries may be getting to the Cubs. They did slug four home runs in the loss. Aramis Ramirez, Jeromy Burnitz and Jason Dubois each hit two-run homers and Derrek Lee added a solo shot and a sacrifice fly for the Cubs. All of the blasts came off Reds starter Eric Milton.
But the recent loss of reliever Chad Fox, and injuries to Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker and Joe Borowski may be too much to overcome.
"You just have to go out and play," Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger said. "You can't worry about who you lost."
With the game tied at 1 in the second, the Reds loaded the bases and Ken Griffey Jr. cleared them with a three-run double, and then scored on Dunn's single to go ahead, 5-1. Burnitz homered in the Cubs' fourth and Dunn's solo blast in the fifth made it 6-3.
|Aramis Ramirez / 3B|
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
The Cubs tied the game in the fifth on Lee's sacrifice fly and Ramirez's two-run homer, and Dubois gave them an 8-6 lead with a two-run blast one out later. But Dubois dropped Griffey's fly ball in the sixth, allowing a run to score on the sacrifice fly.
The Reds tallied in the seventh on a two-run single by Javier Valentin off Michael Wuertz (1-1), and an RBI single by pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz off Remlinger to go ahead, 10-8.
"We battled back and we had action," Baker said. "We battled back and took the lead, but we couldn't hold them.
"Almost everybody I brought in was to get somebody else out of trouble," Baker said of the pen. "The walks hurt and a couple errors on defense hurt. Again, they got the all important two-out RBI hit which is eluding us. We get a hit and that game is tied. Our guys are playing, they're playing hard. We just have to keep playing hard and we'll win a lot of games."
That clutch hit is eluding the Cubs.
"It's just a matter of guys putting together one good at-bat at a time," Burnitz said. "There's just opportunities to be had when the lineup does that. We had it right to the end and I couldn't put a good enough at-bat together myself. As long as the lineup battles and tries to have one good at-bat at a time, we will create opportunities because we have a lot of good offensive players."
But do they have enough arms to make it? Will Ohman was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday to take Fox's spot. Fox injured his right elbow on Monday night, and may be done for the season. He was the designated closer for one day before he was hurt.
"We're going to win and it'll be in various ways that haven't been done before," Remlinger said. "Here, we just want to win ballgames. It's not about getting the credit. It could be any one of us."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.