Monday, April 18, 2016

Arenado homers twice as Rox blank Cubs

 Nolan Arenado homered twice and Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwoodthrew seven stellar innings to outduel Cubs left-hander Jon Lester for a 2-0 victory on Sunday at Wrigley Field that turned out to be historic.
Arenado lofted a fourth-inning Lester pitch into the basket in left field for a home run, then went deep in the ninth against reliever Justin Grimm. It was the first time in the 24-season history of the Rockies that they've won a game 2-0 solely on solo home runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Chatwood gave up two hits and struck out seven, helping the Rockies slow the Cubs' lineup for the second time in three days and giving Colorado the weekend series win.
"Overall, it was a big team win and series win, and that was our focus coming in," Chatwood said.
Lester went 7 1/3, surrendering four hits and striking out 10. His only hiccup was against Arenado, who improved his homer total to six. However, Arenado said Chatwood was the driving force.
"Last night, I said, 'Chatty's on the bump, so we've got a good chance to win this game,'" said Arenado, who became the first player in the Majors to hit two solo homers in a 2-0 victory since the Red Sox's Mookie Betts against the Rays last May 5. "It's huge, big for our confidence. It's a big series win for us."
Miguel Castro and Jake McGee finished Chatwood's work in the eighth and ninth as the Rockies won for the fourth time in five games. Colorado improved to 7-5, and the Cubs moved to 9-3.
Taking his shot: A day after going 0-for-4 on his 25th birthday against Jake Arrieta, Arenado entered Sunday 1-for-9 in the previous two games -- the only hit being a rare (for him) bunt single. But he bounced back in a big way with his second two-homer game in five days. He also had two home runs in a seven-RBI performance against the Padres on Wednesday. More >
"[Arenado] is one of the best hitters and the best defensive third basemen in the league for a reason, and he obviously beat us today, so you have to tip your hat to him," Lester said.
No history, still no runs: With two outs in the fifth, Jorge Soler ended Chatwood's bid for a perfect game with a walk, and Javier Baez followed by ending the no-hitter with a single to left. With two on and two out, David Ross grounded out to end the inning.
"I think he made big pitches when he had to," Ross said. "That's why he's one of their front-line guys. Kept us off balance and worked the corners really well."
Unflustered: Lester surprised Chatwood and the Rockies with a double to right-center to open the sixth. But Chatwood buzzed through the top of the order, with fly balls from Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist sandwiching a strikeout of Jason Heyward. The 100-pitch effort was the second strong start in three games for Chatwood, who before this season hadn't pitched in the Majors since April 29, 2014, because of a long recovery from Tommy John surgery.
"Being away for as long as he has, and to pitch like he has, is pretty amazing," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "To shut down that lineup like he did, you can't throw the ball any better than he did."
Don't leave early: The Cubs didn't go away without some suspense. Heyward hit a double with one out in the ninth, and Zobrist hit a ball to the warning track for the second out. AfterAnthony Rizzo got hit by a pitch, Kris Bryant came up with a chance to win the game, but struck out swinging.
"It's just good to be in that opportunity late in the game," Heyward said. "We don't quit. We're not going to quit. Just trying to make every team earn a win."
Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, in a difficult left-on-left matchup with Lester, saw his career-best hit streak end at 21 games (dating to last season) and his season-opening run end at 11 games. But before the Cubs had their first baserunner, he had a dazzling defensive play -- a sliding catch near the foul line to rob Anthony Rizzo of extra bases.
"Nolan finds a way to win just about every day. He's involved in all the wins we have, either defensively or offensively. We don't ever want to take him for granted. We've certainly seen plenty of it." -- Weiss, on Arenado
Rockies starters entered Wrigley with a 6.94 ERA in the season's first nine games. But Chad BettisChristian Bergman and Chatwood combined for a 1.00 mark (two earned runs in 18 innings).
Rockies: The Rockies have won 12 of their last 19 games against the Reds. Righty Jordan Lyles (0-1, 11.25 ERA) will try to find his groove and maintain the Rockies' when they face the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Monday at 5:10 p.m. MT.
Cubs: The Cubs begin their first National League Central series with John Lackey starting against the Cardinals, the team he left for the Cubs in free agency. Lackey (2-0, 5.68 ERA) will start against the Cards for the first time in the regular season Monday at 7:09 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium.

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