Troy Tulowitzki's cycle -- and career-high seven RBIs and five hits -- lifted the Rockies to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs on Monday night and put them ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card standings.
But they're also 5 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Dodgers. When all the standing ovations were done -- there were plenty, for Tulowitzki, pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (10-8) after his 7 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and center fielder Dexter Fowler after he crashed into the center-field wall and bruised his left knee -- being within earshot of the division lead was what mattered.
Tulowitzki, and admitted scoreboard watcher, had his mind on the game's importance.
"It's definitely more satisfying that I did it in a game that means a lot," Tulowitzki said.
The Rockies took three of four from the Cubs, who are three games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and three behind the Rockies in the Wild Card. If they'd made more of their chances Saturday night, the Rockies would have had a sweep.
"Their team's playing well, and it's tough to slow them down," Cubs third baseman Jake Fox said. "They're swinging the bats well, they're pitching well."
The Rockies will begin a three-game set with the Pirates on Tuesday before a six-game road trip against the Marlins, who are part of the Wild Card picture, and the Nationals.
"It was a very good series, obviously, but it's time to turn the page," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose club is 44-22 since he replaced Clint Hurdle on May 29.
Well, maybe not yet.
It was one for the books for Tulowitzki, who joins former Red Sox shortstop John Valentin as the only players in history to have an unassisted triple play and a cycle to their credit. Tulowitzki's cycle was the fifth by a Rockies player.
Tulowitzki, whose two-run shot off Tom Gorzelanny (4-2) in the first inning was his team-leading 21st home run of the season, lost a possible grand slam in the second inning. Colorado's cleanup hitter sent Esmailin Caridad's pitch onto the concourse in left, but umpires ruled it foul and, according to the Rockies, didn't have a conclusive replay to change the call.
"They did everything they possibly could," said Tulowitzki, who said he talked to crew chief Bob Davidson and Bill Welke, who made the real-time call. "There just wasn't enough evidence."
The game turned out to be a highlight for De La Rosa, who held the Cubs to one run -- on a Geovany Soto solo shot in the sixth -- and six hits. The left-hander not only finished one strikeout shy of his career high, but he singled and doubled. It was a major bounce-back for De La Rosa, who gave up three homers in his last start, a road loss to the Phillies.
All this came after De La Rosa gave up three hits and walked three in the first two innings, facing loaded bases both times. However, he forced Alfonso Soriano to ground out to end the first and fanned Derrek Lee to end the second.
"I was overthrowing the first two innings," said De La Rosa, who received a rousing applause when he left with the bases loaded in the eighth. "But I made adjustments, going to breaking balls in those innings, and it worked pretty good.
"I was never concerned that I couldn't get out of it. I threw a lot of pitches in the first two innings, but adjusted and concentrated on throwing strikes the rest of the way."
Clint Barmes knocked his 16th homer, a solo shot off Gorzelanny, in the second. Gorzelanny's night ended when Fowler hit a hard smash off his right foot for an RBI single in the second. The Rockies tallied six runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings against him.
Also, Todd Helton went 3-for-4, extending his hit streak to 15 games.
The Cubs scored four in the ninth, all charged to Huston Street, who gave up four hits in a non-save situation. The only out Street managed was when Fowler crashed into the wall in center to catch Soto's sacrifice fly. Fowler said he should be OK, though it might mean missing a game.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less