Rox come up empty at Wrigley Field

Rox come up empty at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO -- With the Rockies' bats as chilly as the wind off Lake Michigan, perhaps it was for the best that Colorado had just two games at Wrigley Field, where it's now lost 11 of its past 12 games.

Cubs starter Carlos Silva baffled the Rockies for six-plus innings as Chicago beat Colorado, 6-2, winning the brief two-day series before 37,029 at the Friendly Confines on Tuesday. Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin struggled with his command in a three-run Cubs fourth and Chicago tacked on three more runs in the eighth off the bullpen, plenty of offense against a Colorado team still grasping for consistent production.

"Offensively, we still have a ways to go," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "There's no getting around it. And we will. We just have to keep battling like we've been doing and hang in there.

"Let's face it, when you score four runs in two games at Wrigley Field, that's not too good. That's the bottom line."

One bright spot on a relatively grim night for Colorado was another big game from veteran first baseman Todd Helton. Helton, who reached base four times in Monday's 4-2 loss in extra innings, doubled and hit a two-run homer in the seventh for the Rockies' only runs. It was Helton's first homer of the season and his first since Sept. 30 of last season.

"The most important thing is, we didn't win," Helton said. "It did feel good to actually hit a home run. [It] seems like it's been a long, long time."

Helton also doubled, the 514th of his career, moving him into a tie with Edgar Martinez for 41st on the all-time list. Next up is Joe Cronin, who had 515.

"There's no question about it," said Tracy about Helton's night being a glimmer of hope. "This guy is going to find his way. We have some other people that have to join in."

Silva, pitching with a three-run advantage, was trying to avoid giving the Rockies any freebies when Helton hit his blast.

"I don't like to walk anybody," Silva said. "I didn't want to shake off [catcher Geovany] Soto. Whatever he called, I was going to throw it. I shook him off. He called a changeup, I shook him off and threw a fastball, and [Helton] hit a homer.

"I was leading, 3-0, [and I thought] maybe throw a fastball and get a double play -- that was the only thing I had in my mind," Silva said. "That's one of the best hitters in the game."

Chacin struggled with his command from the outset, then appeared to settle down before getting wild again in the fourth. By the end of that inning, Chacin had thrown 79 pitches, one night after Colorado starter Aaron Cook used just 84 pitches to get through seven frames. Chacin finished with 101 pitches before he was removed for lefty Randy Flores with two outs in the sixth.

"When you consider the fact that we were in a 3-2 ballgame in the eighth inning, that part of it is a job well done," Tracy said, "because when you analyze the game, we didn't throw enough strikes from a starting-pitching standpoint.

"The three-run [fourth] inning was a result of a leadoff walk, then we fell behind Marlon Byrd and created an action count. They played hit-and-run and got guys on first and third, and they end up manufacturing a few [runs]."

In that inning, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, whose 11th-inning homer sunk the Rockies on Monday, worked Chacin for a walk and went to third on Byrd's opposite-field single. Ramirez scored on Tyler Colvin's single to center. Chacin walked Soto, loading the bases. Starlin Castro hit a hard grounder at Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart -- which might have been a double-play ball -- but Stewart fumbled the ball, recovered and got the force at second as Byrd scored the second run. Chacin struck out Silva after the hurler was unable to get down a squeeze bunt. However, Kosuke Fukudome singled to score Colvin for the Cubs' third run of the inning.

The Rockies made little headway against Silva during the first six innings. Their best scoring chance was probably in the fourth inning, when Brad Hawpe led off with a single. Troy Tulowitzki bounced a ball to second. Ryan Theriot, the Cubs' second baseman, charged in and fielded the ball and swiped at Hawpe, who was called out by second-base umpire Derryl Cousins. Theriot then threw to first to complete the double play.

"He wasn't tagged. It's that simple," Tracy said.

Television replays appeared to show that Theriot missed Hawpe by several inches and Tracy came out to the field to argue, to little effect. Helton followed with a double into the right-field corner, which would have scored Hawpe.

"It sure does," Tracy said, when asked if the play took the wind out of the Rockies' sails. "When you're not applying consistent pressure, it seems like things like that don't ever go your way.

"I can promise you this: Brad Hawpe is a smart enough player that when he gets that animated, there's obviously something that isn't right."

Miguel Olivo was called out on strikes to end the inning, and the Rockies came up empty. It was as close as the Rockies came to scoring against Silva until Helton's homer.

"It's his changeup. [Silva] threw a lot of first-pitch changeups tonight, threw a lot of hitter's-count changeups tonight," Tracy said. "In my opinion, he did an excellent job of pitching around his fastball. He didn't pitch with his fastball, he pitched around it. That's the reason the Carlos Silva you see now is 5-0 vs. the tough time he had last year in Seattle."

After scoring a total of eight runs in three games plus six innings over the last four days, all of which came in relatively harsh conditions, the Rockies finally found some offensive juice in the seventh. Tulowitzki worked Silva for a walk, the first free pass allowed by the control specialist in the game. Cubs manager Lou Piniella and his trainer came out to check on Silva, who stayed in the game. Helton then hammered a Silva pitch into the right-center-field bleachers for his first homer of the season, trimming the Cubs' lead to 3-2. Piniella returned by himself this time to remove Silva from the game and bring in Esmailin Caridad.

Caridad promptly walked Olivo. Piniella returned again, waving lefty James Russell into the game. Olivo darted for second with Stewart at the plate and dove for the bag but managed to land face-first, sliding in safely but dragging his face through the dirt in the process. Tracy and his trainer ran out to check on Olivo, who remained on the ground for several minutes. It was the fourth time in the game the medical staffs made an on-field appearance. Olivo came out of the contest, replaced by backup catcher Paul Phillips.

"He basically hit his head and snapped his head back," said Tracy. "On the field, he complained about soreness in the back of his neck."

After the game, Olivo was seated in front of his locker eating a plate of pasta, and when asked how he felt, he said, "I'm fine." Nevertheless, he had scrapes on his chin and forehead to show for his trouble.

Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez legged out an infield single to lead off the game on a hard-hit grounder that deflected off the glove of Ramirez, the Cubs' third baseman. The hit extended Gonzalez's hitting streak to 12 games, which is a career high.

Now the Rockies head to Houston to play the Astros, a team that is struggling for runs at an almost historic level. For Colorado, it could mean another series in which every play is magnified because each run carries with it a lot of significance.

"If you're only going to score a couple of runs, you have to pitch perfectly and you have to defend perfectly," said Tracy.

"At some point in time, we are going to hit. I promise you that."

Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.