Carlos Zambrano took a no hitter into the 8th inning yesterday against the Padres but ended up on the short end of a 1-0 decision, thanks to an improbable HR by San Diego’s Russell Branyan. That said, it would be technically incorrect to characterize the Cubbies as punchless, as Derek Lee demonstrated yesterday afternoon. OK, his swing at Chris Young didn’t actually connect, but any incident that reminds us Gerald Perry is still alive can’t be a totaly bad thing, as the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan explains.

Alfonso Soriano’s moonwalk out of the batter’s box Friday after his home run onto Waveland Avenue certainly irritated the Padres, though they insisted it did not prompt retaliation in the form of a Chris Young fastball that hit Derrek Lee on Saturday, igniting a brawl that’s likely to lead to Lee’s suspension.

We’re like a family here,” Soriano said. “If they throw at somebody, we have to throw at somebody, too, because that’s not fair.”

Lee, Young, Padres pitcher Jake Peavy and Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry were ejected for their roles in a brouhaha that began when Young hit Lee on the left hand with an up-and-in fastball leading off the fourth inning.

While Padres catcher Rob Bowen argued with plate umpire Mike Everitt, claiming it was a foul tip, Lee began jawing with Young on his way toward first. Young appeared to motion to Lee to just take his base before Lee charged and threw a wild punch at the pitcher, missing him.

Young missed Lee with a counterpunch, and the bench-clearing fight was on. Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who tumbled to the ground while trying to separate players, said he was unsure what would happen to Lee. Piniella said the league is “inconsistent” with its rulings.

On Friday, Peavy and Padres left-hander David Wells had criticized Soriano for not “respecting the game” with his moonwalk.

“I didn’t appreciate that,” Peavy said. “Just play the game. If I think a player shows me up like that, I like the next guy to take one in the stinking ribs. That way, his teammate will let him know about it, [and he’ll] tell him, ‘Hey, you’d better run the bases.’

“Respect the game. That’s the way it used to be. When you were growing up, did you see anybody act like that? Now it’s accepted.”

Piniella said beforehand that “I didn’t even know he backpedaled” on the homer.

“I liked the home run, put it that way,” Piniella said.

Indeed, I can think of no player more qualified to lecture others on respecting the game than David Wells. Not only is the Sultan Of Sloth an exceptional physical specimen, but he’s long shown the kind of commitment younger players can aspire to. No only was the Hefty Lefty capable of tossing a perfect game while drunk, he also refused to give up drinking when diagnosed with gout. Baseball’s not a game for quitters, people.