For one brief moment Thursday at Wrigley Field, Sammy Sosa wished he was in Carlos Zambrano's shoes.
During the fifth inning of the Cubs 9-4 victory over San Francisco, after retiring Barry Bonds on a liner to the mound left three runners stranded, Zambrano began pumping his fist in exaggerated fashion while staring at the Giants slugger.
Bonds seethed afterward, claiming Zambrano was out of line.
"I didn't see it," Bonds said. "But that kid will respect me. He'll learn fast. You have to show respect to get respect."
Zambrano had no regrets, saying he was not trying to be "cocky," but pointing out the hypocrisy of Bonds' misplaced anger.
"It was a big out," Zambrano said. "When he hit his 500th home run, he stood at home plate and watched it a little while, and then he runs. He has been doing that since he was a rookie, so I can do anything I want."
Sosa complimented Zambrano on his fist-pumping efforts, saying Bonds was in error if he thought Zambrano was being disrespectful.
"He wasn't showing up [Bonds]," Sosa said. "The guy is pitching against Barry Bonds, and he got him out. With the bases loaded? C'mon. He's a great kid. If it was me and I was a pitcher, I'd be doing the same thing. Getting Barry Bonds out with the bases loaded? Are you kidding me? That's not easy."
The Cubs took two of three from the West Division leaders, who came into the series with 10 victories in their previous 11 games. The Cubs face Curt Schilling and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, trailing Houston by 3½ games in the Central Division.
Zambrano (9-8) allowed four runs in eight innings to post his third straight victory after being staked to a four-run lead after one inning. But his real moment of truth came when Bonds stepped up in the fateful fifth.
San Francisco loaded the bases with one out and then Zambrano retired Marquis Grissom on a fly to medium center field, sending Bonds up as the tying run. Zambrano had walked Bonds intentionally in the first inning with a runner on second and he walked him again leading off the fourth inning.
But this time there was nowhere to put the man with 649 career home runs. Bonds missed a chance on the first pitch, fouling back a pitch that had Sheffield Avenue written all over it.
"We all let out a sigh of relief," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Then I saw Barry shake his head because he just missed it. Zambrano got away with one."
After inducing Bonds to line one back to him, Zambrano went into his celebration routine.
Baker said he likes Zambrano to pitch with emotion, even if it means angering Bonds.
Back on May 1, Mark Prior ticked off Bonds by hitting him with a pitch, so the two young Cubs starters may have cornered the market in Barry-baiting.
"I'd rather have a guy with a lot of emotion and try to settle him down instead of a guy with no emotion and you try to poke him to pick it up," Baker said. "You can always key a guy down. It's hard to ignite a guy who's emotionless. It doesn't bother me. He's not showing up the opposition, He's just into the ballgame and trying to psyche himself up."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times