Carlos Villanueva and the Commandless Cubs – Cubs 3, Rockies 9

Game Ninety-Five – Cubs 3, Rockies 9

WP – Juan Nicasio (6-9) LP – Carlos Villanueva (2-6) Save – None

Carlos Villanueva and the Cubs’ pitching staff had a bad night in Denver and the Cubs dropped the second game of the series to the Rockies. A 35 mph wind played havoc in the early innings before the Rockies took command and blew the game open.

The Cubs actually took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth after Luis Valbuena (2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and a walk) hit his ninth longball of the season in the third inning. But Carlos Villanueva’s command issues finally caught up to him in the fourth. The Rockies scored three runs in the fourth inning with the big hit coming off the bat of Dexter Fowler, a two-run triple after Villanueva walked the pitcher. The Rockies blew the game open in the fifth and knocked Villanueva out of the game before he could record an out. The Rockies went onto score four runs in the fifth and cruised to the win.

Carlos Villanueva’s worst two starts of the season have come against the Rockies. Carlos Villanueva allowed seven runs on nine hits with four walks and no strikeouts. Villanueva threw 87 pitches, 47 for strikes, in four-plus innings.

Michael Bowden allowed two inherited runs to score in the fifth that closed the book on Villanueva. Hector Rondon had the best night of the four pitchers Dale Sveum used on Saturday. Rondon retired all three batters he faced in the seventh. The Rockies added on two more in the eighth against Blake Parker.

Cubs pitching had a bad night. The Rockies scored nine runs on 13 hits with only one home run. The Rockies had runners on base all night long due to the seven walks issued by Cubs pitching. It is hard to win a game when a pitching staff walks almost as many batters as the number of hits the offense collects. The Rockies were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base in a game in which they scored nine times.

Luis Valbuena had a good night and drove in two of the Cubs three runs. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) reached base twice but did not score. Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a run scored) doubled and scored one of the Cubs’ three runs and Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a walk) collected another hit and worked a walk.

The Cubs had plenty of opportunities against Juan Nicasio but could not string together any hits. The Cubs managed eight hits, three for extra bases, and walked four times but finished the game 1-for-8 with RISP and left eight men on base.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 43-52 on the season …

The Cubs made Juan Nicasio work in the first inning. The Rockies hurler threw 27 pitches, 14 for strikes, but was able to wiggle his way out of trouble after Starlin Castro reached with a one out single and Soriano walked on four pitches with two down. Schierholtz grounded out to second on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva worked around a one-out single by D.J. LeMahieu in the first without allowing any runs. Villanueva threw 14 pitches, eight for strikes, in the opening inning.

Junior Lake walked to start the second but was thrown out trying to steal second on a 2-1 pitch to Barney. Nicasio ended up facing the minimum in the second.

Carlos Villanueva continued struggling with his command in the second but was able to pitch out of a jam without allowing the Rockies to score. Todd Helton just missed a homer to right and had to settle for a one out double. Wilin Rosario flied out to left center. Villanueva walked Nolan Arenado to put two on with two out for Nicasio. Villanueva retired Nicasio on a grounder to short for the third out. Villanueva needed 33 pitches, 18 for strikes, to complete two innings on Saturday night.

Luis Valbuena broke the scoreless tie with a solo homer to right with one down in the third. Valbuena worked a full count before pulling his ninth longball of the season over the wall in right center. Castro grounded out to short and Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning. Nicasio threw 64 pitches, 34 for strikes, over the first three innings.

The Rockies continued putting runners on base in the third inning … and Villanueva kept finding ways to wiggle out of trouble. Villanueva issued a leadoff walk to Fowler. Walt Weiss called for a hit and run on the first pitch to LeMahieu. Barney went to cover the bag and LeMahieu smoked Villanueva’s offering back up the middle. Barney knocked the ball down, bobbled it and had to settle for the out at first. With Fowler at second, Villanueva walked Carlos Gonzalez on four pitches. Tulowitzki stepped in and grounded a 2-0 pitch back up the middle. Villanueva made a nice stop and started a 1-4-3 inning ending double play. Villanueva threw 46 pitches over the first three innings, 21 for strikes.

The Rockies tied and took the lead in the fourth after the Cubs went down in order in the top of the inning. Todd Helton singled to right with one down and advanced to third on a double to right off the bat of Wilin Rosario. Nolan Arenado rolled a 1-0 pitch toward first. Rizzo fielded the ball, bobbled it and had to settle for tagging Arenado for the second out. Helton scored and tied the game at one. Rosario advanced to third and held after Villanueva walked Juan Nicasio … the 12th time this season a Cubs pitcher walked the opposing pitcher. Inexcusable.

Dexter Fowler broke the tie, and as it turns out the game open, with a triple to right. Rosario and Nicasio scored, 3-1 Rockies. LeMahieu lined out to Junior Lake in left center to end the inning. Villanueva threw 77 pitches, 39 for strikes, over the first four innings.

The Cubs went down quickly and quietly in the fifth and the Rockies finally turned all of those baserunners into runs in the fifth.

Carlos Gonzalez led off the fifth with a towering homer to right center (2-1 pitch) and gave the Rockies a 4-1 lead. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a single to left. Michael Cuddyer blooped a single into right center. Lake broke back and could not come in quick enough to make the catch. Lake then tried to barehand the ball, missed it and Cuddyer ended up at second on E8. With the infield in and runners on second and third with no outs, Todd Helton blooped a single into right center. Tulowitzki scored, 5-1 Rockies and Dale Sveum went to his pen. Michael Bowden took over for Carlos Villanueva and gave up a single to Wilin Rosario. Cuddyer scored, 6-1 Rockies. With runners on first and second with still no outs, Arenado flied out to right. Helton tagged and went to third. Bowden walked pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon to load the bases with one out.

Dexter Fowler closed the book on Villanueva when he flied out to left on a 3-1 pitch. Helton scored, 7-1 Rockies. Bowden struck out LeMahieu swinging to end the inning.

After five complete, the Cubs trailed 7-1.

Adam Ottavino took over for the Rockies in the sixth and gave up a one out single to Anthony Rizzo. Alfonso Soriano followed with a hustle double to right center. With runners on second and third with one down, Schierholtz grounded out to first. Rizzo scored, 7-2 Rockies. Junior Lake struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Michael Bowden issued the sixth walk of the night by Cubs pitching in the sixth. But the two out free pass to Cuddyer did not cost another run.

The Cubs chipped into the Rockies lead in the seventh. Darwin Barney led off the seventh with a single to left center off Adam Ottavino. A wild pitch on a 1-2 offering to Castillo allowed Barney to move up ninety feet. Castillo walked and Walt Weiss went to his pen for Wilton Lopez.

Julio Borbon hit for Bowden and flied out to left for the first out. Luis Valbuena worked a 2-2 count then singled to right. Barney scored, 7-3 Rockies. With runners on first and second with one out, Castro swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 6-3 inning ending double play.

Hector Rondon retired the side in order in the seventh and the game went to the eighth with the Cubs down 7-3.

The Cubs did nothing against Josh Outman in the eighth and the Rockies blew the game wide open in the home half of the inning. Fowler greeted Blake Parker with a single to left center. Fowler swiped second on the first pitch to LeMahieu. Parker fell behind his former teammate and LeMahieu singled to right. Fowler held at third with no outs.

Parker appeared to pickoff LeMahieu from first but he got caught up in a rundown and Fowler broke for the plate. LeMahieu initiated contact with Castro which was called as interference on the Cubs’ shortstop. Fowler had to return to third and by rule LeMahieu was awarded second. Parker struck out Gonzalez swinging but could not get past Tulowitzki.

Troy Tulowitzki pulled a 3-2 pitch down the third baseline. The ball ended up in the left field corner. Fowler and LeMahieu scored, 9-3 Rockies, on a double by Tulowitzki. Cuddyer flied out to right. Parker then walked Helton. With runners on first and second with two down, Rosario lined out to third to finally end the inning.

Darwin Barney reached on a one-out double in the ninth. Cody Ransom was hit by a pitch with two outs and Luis Valbuena walked to load the bases. But former Cardinals’ reliever Mitchell Boggs retired Starlin Castro on a grounder to short to end the game.

Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Tyler Chatwood in the series and season finale with the Rockies on Sunday afternoon.

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