In a flash, he was being separated from Derrek Lee. Then, he was being sent home, and it's anybody's guess when he'll be back.
Zambrano was given an indefinite suspension from the Cubs after a wild meltdown that stole the spotlight Friday, when the Chicago White Sox beat their crosstown rivals 6-0 for their 10th straight win.
Jake Peavy (7-5) allowed three hits over seven innings to run his scoreless streak to 21 innings, Carlos Quentin hit his fourth homer in four games, and the White Sox matched their longest winning streak in 34 years.
But all that was overshadowed by the confrontation in the visitor's dugout following the White Sox's four-run first inning.
"That's something that can't be tolerated," said manager Lou Piniella, who sent Milton Bradley home from a game at U.S. Cellular Field last year for a dugout tantrum.
And general manager Jim Hendry said it won't be.
"It's not the first time I've had to have some intervention with Z, and it's just something I won't allow the other players to have to go through without some kind of disciplinary recourse."
Zambrano (3-6) screamed as he walked down the dugout steps past Lee and stormed toward the other end after the first inning. Lee appeared to yell something, and as Zambrano headed back toward him, Piniella, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bench coach Alan Trammell stepped between them.
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto grabbed the pitcher from behind and pulled him away. Zambrano appeared to say something to Piniella on his way to the clubhouse after being lifted for Tom Gorzelanny, who pitched the second inning.
Piniella said Zambrano was upset after some of his teammates didn't try to make diving stops, even though the balls were hit hard.
That includes a leadoff double by Juan Pierre down the right field line past Lee and another with one out by Alex Rios down the left field line past third baseman Aramis Ramirez to drive in the first run.
Lee had little to say about the incident, telling reporters, "First of all, no questions about what happened. I'll talk about the game, that's it."
Asked if he could have made a diving stop on Pierre's double, Lee shook his head and muttered, "No."
Lee was in on the play, and Pierre felt he had no shot at it. The same goes for Piniella, who did not think Ramirez could have stopped Rios' double.
Zambrano has a history of blowups, including an altercation in the Wrigley Field dugout and clubhouse with former catcher Michael Barrett three years ago. He had been on good behavior this season.
He refused to complain publicly when the Cubs sent him to the bullpen in late April for about a five-week stint that produced mixed results, at best. That changed with one big eruption.
"In a game like this it's very easy if things don't go well on the field or off the field you can let your emotions get the best of you," Peavy said. "Biggest thing is to channel the energy in the right way."
That's exactly what Peavy did.
He won his third straight start, tying a season high with nine strikeouts. Coming off a three-hit shutout over Washington, Peavy retired 12 straight before Lee's one-out single in the seventh. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the inning when Soto grounded out.
Quentin continued his recent surge with two hits, and struggling Gordon Beckham led off the fifth with his second homer after going 211 at-bats without one.
The Cubs, however, continue to slump despite activating Ramirez (sprained left thumb) from the disabled list.
"We're going to stick together," Lee said. "We'll definitely stick together. Sometimes, it's not easy."
- To make room for Ramirez, the Cubs designated INF Chad Tracy for assignment.
- Former White Sox C Carlton Fisk got a loud ovation when he threw out the first pitch.
- The White Sox have back-to-back shutouts for the first time since they blanked Cleveland and Detroit last Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, after beating Atlanta 2-0 on Thursday.