Cubs frustrated as Pujols hits another game-winning homer

After losing a victory, Carlos Zambrano lost his cool.

The volatile Cubs starter criticized closer Carlos Marmol for giving Ryan Theriot a pitch to hit on the RBI double that kept the St. Louis Cardinals alive for another timely shot from Albert Pujols. The All-Star slugger hit a game-ending homer in extra innings for the second straight day, beating the Cubs with a leadoff shot in the 10th inning of a 3-2 victory Sunday.

“The problem wasn’t Pujols — the problem was the previous at-bat,” Zambrano said. “We’re playing like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing.”

Zambrano said Marmol should know Theriot, who played for Chicago for six seasons, can’t catch up to his fastball. Marmol shook off a sign for the fastball and Theriot lined a slider down the left-field line.

“I made a mistake,” Zambrano said. “The pitch was right down the middle. I missed with my best pitch and he got a hit. I mean, what can you say?”

Earlier in the at-bat, catcher Koyie Hill and third baseman Aramis Ramirez visited the mound. Hill said it was to help Marmol relax.

“We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter. We should know that as a team,” Zambrano said. “We should play better here. We stink. That’s all I have to say.”

Pujols hammered a 2-1 belt-high fastball from Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) an estimated 446 feet to left for his 10th career game-ending homer. His fifth during a seven-game homestand and No. 13 for the season gave the Cardinals a three-game sweep over the scuffling Cubs, who have lost nine of 11.

“You hitch up your belt and you go to Cincinnati and you say they’re going to pay,” Quade said. “It’s the only thing you can do.”

The Cardinals were down to their last strike before Theriot’s hit, driving in pinch-runner Tony Cruz from first. Theriot extended his hitting streak to 19 games, the Cardinals’ longest since Pujols hit in 30 straight in 2009.

Marmol has two blown save opportunities in his last three appearances and is 10 for 14 overall. He had worked a franchise-record 26 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road before Theriot’s hit on a 2-2 pitch.

“Yeah, I feel good,” Marmol said. “It’s not about how I feel, it’s about the mistake I made. It bothers me.”

Zambrano pitched seven crisp innings, yielding one run and five hits. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 13 career starts in St. Louis.

Ramirez returned from a two-game absence with a two-run double in the fourth for the lone damage against hard-luck Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.

Pujols homered twice on Saturday, with his drive off Jeff Samardzija sending the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory in 12 innings. Pujols also had an infield hit in the sixth Sunday and scored on Allen Craig’s base hit.