CHICAGO (AP) - Jhoulys Chacin has been close to perfect in June, until he took the hill with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field.
Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez each homered twice, three of those shots coming off Chacin, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
Chacin (8-5) struggled with his command and lost for the first time in four decisions, allowing season highs with six runs, nine hits, three homers and seven extra-base hits. He departed after throwing 107 pitches in five innings.
``Unfortunately, Jhoulys didn't have it today and that happens once in a while,' said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. ``He couldn't get the ball down today and he paid for it.'
Carlos Gonzalez homered twice for the Rockies and Todd Helton added a run-scoring single.
``My first at-bat it was a fastball away and I tried to hit the ball away and it just kept going,' Gonzalez said. ``The second was a mistake on a change-up down and in.'
Gonzalez has 12 homers on the year and has a pair of two-homer games this season.
Chacin hadn't allowed more than one run in any of his four June starts, but allowed two runs in the first inning Monday. Starlin Castro tripled off the ivy in center field with two outs, then Ramirez homered to left-center on a 1-2 pitch.
``Today my slider wasn't good,' Chacin said. ``I didn't make my pitches today and I struggled all over the place.'
Ramirez also doubled and scored in the fifth, then homered again to lead off the seventh for his 24th career multihomer gamer. Ramirez has finally started to heat up after hitting just two homers in the season's first two months.
``I don't know what happened,' Chacin said.
Pena homered leading off the fourth and added a two-run shot in the fifth for his 20th career multihomer game. Pena and Ramirez each drove in three runs.
The longball barrage backed a strong outing by Cubs starter Matt Garza (4-6), who threw 7 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.
``Garza had a nice day,' Tracy said. ``He was in the strike zone all day long. He had four pitches today throwing them all for strikes.'
After the Cubs squandered scoring chances in the second and third, Pena hammered a 3-1 Chacin pitch into the batter's eye in dead center field to lead off the fourth.
Later in the fourth, the Cubs loaded the bases on Geovany Soto's two-out double and back-to-back walks to Garza and Kosuke Fukudome. With Tony Campana at the plate, Chacin threw a pitch to the screen, allowing Soto to score and put the Cubs ahead 4-1.
Chicago broke the game open in the fifth. Ramirez doubled up the right-field line with one out. Pena then homered for the second time, an opposite field shot that also came on a 3-1 count. That gave Pena 16 homers, all since May 3, the most in the NL over that span.
``(Chacin) wasn't the pitcher today that everyone knows,' said Gonzalez. ``He just had a bad day.'
Not to be outdone, Ramirez launched a 1-0 pitch off reliever Clayton Mortensen onto the roof of the batting eye in center leading off the seventh, putting Chicago up 7-2. It was his eighth homer of the season.
The Rockies started fast against Garza when Gonzalez led off the game with a homer to opposite field. It was Gonzalez's third homer to lead off a game in his career.
Garza then hit Jonathan Herrera in the foot with a pitch, but settled down to retire the next 10 Colorado hitters in a row. Troy Tulowitzki broke the streak with a one-out single in the fourth.
``Garza was tough,' said Tulowitzki. ``You'll have to ask him, but I think he had some of his best stuff. His curve was one of the best. He was going in and out.'
Garza cruised into the eighth, when he allowed Gonzalez's second homer of the day with one out, trimming the Cubs' lead to 7-3.
``(Home runs and pitching is) a pretty good combination,' Quade said. ``Garza was really good. Damned if I didn't think he was better late in the game, his last couple of innings, until Gonzo's home run. But he finishes, once he gets rolling he finishes usually with authority. That's a great trait to have.'
Chacin also hadn't given up more than four hits in any of his starts this month, but the Cubs got five after Fukudome and Campana each singled to start the third. But Chacin got Castro on a fly to left and induced Ramirez to hit into a double play, keeping Colorado within a run.
The Rockies continue to hover around .500 and before Monday's game, Tracy said, ``There is a burst coming.' With about three weeks until the mid-summer break, now is the time for Colorado to put together a run.
``We need to make a little run before the break to put ourselves in position,' said Tulowitzki.'
Notes: Monday's game was a makeup of an April 27 rainout. ... The Rockies, who finished a weekend series in New York against the Yankees on Sunday, return to Denver to face the White Sox in an interleague series beginning Tuesday. The Cubs play a day-night doubleheader to open a four-game series at Wrigley against the Giants on Tuesday. ... Cubs 2b Darwin Barney homered for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Barney is on a rehab assignment as part of his recovery from the left knee sprain that landed him on the disabled list on June 14. Manager Mike Quade says he hopes to have Barney back in the lineup in time for Wednesday game against San Francisco. ... Quade also said that OF Marlon Byrd (fractured orbital bone) and reliever Kerry Wood (blister on right index finger) are improving and could be back with the club in a week or so. Byrd has been out since May 21, when he was hit in the face by a pitch by Boston's Alfredo Aceves. ... Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers took batting practice at Wrigley Field on Monday while the Cubs went through their pregame stretches, before the gates were opened to the fans. Jonas, a righty swinger, took a few swipes, enough to demonstrate that he isn't headed for the big leagues any time soon. ... The Cubs last had two players homer more than once in a game on June 9 of last season, when Byrd and Soto accomplished the feat.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved