On a night of role reversal at Miller Park, Carlos Zambrano played the part of the calm, mild-mannered player while Corey Patterson did his impersonation of a raving lunatic.
Neither performance brought down the house Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, though Patterson's outburst may bring him a multiple-game suspension the struggling Cubs can't afford.
Patterson was ejected in the sixth inning for tossing his helmet in the direction of first-base umpire Bob Davidson after Davidson called him out on a close play.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Patterson said in regard to a suspension.
The Cubs lost their third straight game and dropped below .500 again at 12-13, five games behind division-leading St. Louis.
Brewers left-hander Chris Capuano (2-2) held the Cubs to one run on five hits through seven innings before relievers Ricky Bottalico and Derrick Turnbow finished it off to give Milwaukee its fifth straight victory.
Patterson's incident was surprising to just about everyone.
"That's the first time I've ever seen Corey upset," manager Dusty Baker said. "We'd like to see him upset more, but not in that situation. He was clearly safe in our eyes."
Patterson said he wasn't trying to hit Davidson with the helmet, but it's doubtful that alibi will hold up in the court of Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson.
"I knew as soon as I threw my helmet I was going to get ejected," Patterson said. "It was just frustrating. Sometimes you have to stick up for yourself, even though it's not going to help me out, or the team. And that's what I did."
Zambrano (2-1), making his first start since being ejected April 26 for throwing at Cincinnati's Austin Kearns, carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, striking out nine hitters through the first five innings.
But then Brady Clark led off with a single and advanced on Bill Hall's ground-rule double, putting Zambrano on the ropes. Geoff Jenkins' sacrifice fly tied the score 1-1 and advanced Hall to third, and he scored on Carlos Lee's ground shot that glanced off Aramis Ramirez's glove on a backhand attempt at third.
After an intentional walk to Lyle Overbay, former Cubs catcher Damian Miller followed with an RBI double to right on a 2-0 pitch. Overbay was thrown out at home on a relay by Derrek Lee, but the Brewers suddenly led 3-1.
"I think they were lucky," Zambrano said. "They hit the ball. What can I do? They hit my pitches."
Patterson went 0-for-3 and is hitting .125 against left-handers.
The Cubs have more speed at the top of their order than they have had in years with Jerry Hairston and Patterson as the 1-2 hitters, but they have failed to take advantage of it. The two speedsters have only one stolen base apiece and have combined for only four attempts.
Patterson, who was 32 of 41 on steal attempts last year, hasn't attempted a steal since a successful theft in the second inning of an 8-3 victory over San Diego on April 13.
"Man, only one stolen base?" Patterson said. "It's funny, but it's not."
Patterson hasn't been given the stoplight by Baker but hasn't found himself in good running situations.
"More so now, if I get the opportunity, I will go," he said. "If you get thrown out, you get thrown out. If I get the opportunity, I need to, because having one stolen base and we're a month [into the season] I know I can steal 30-plus bases."
But you can't steal bases on the suspended list, and that's where Patterson could be headed.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times