08/11/09 2:35 AM ET
Cubs fall further back in rout by Rockies
Team loses ground in NL Central, Wild Card race
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
They limp out of town having lost three games in the standings to St. Louis -- after starting the series percentage points ahead of them in a tie for first -- and facing injuries to Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez. Just about the only break that's fallen their way was their first replay review that saved them the ignominy of a grand slam that would have been the epitome of adding insult to injury.
Ultimately, the Cubs fell, 11-5, to the Rockies on Monday, losing the four-game series three games to one, and falling another game behind the pace in both the National League Central and the NL Wild Card races. The Rockies took over first place in the Wild Card after starting the night tied with the Giants, who lost to the Dodgers on Monday. and stand three games ahead of the Cubs.
Additionally, the Cubs saw another player fall, as starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny suffered a right foot contusion while fielding a hard grounder that bounced off his foot with runners on first and third in the second inning. Gorzelanny scrambled after the ball and tried to whirl and throw out the runner at the plate, but the ball slipped out of his hand and went nowhere near catcher Geovany Soto. Gorzelanny left the game after the play and was taken to a local hospital for X-rays.
"There's no fracture," manager Lou Piniella said. "It means he'll get his regular throw day in a couple days, and then he'll be able to make his next start."
Gorzelanny was touched for six runs, all earned, in his 1 1/3 innings on the hill. Much of the day's damage came from Troy Tulowitzki, who launched a two-out two-run homer in the first inning to give the Rockies the early lead and proceeded to hit for the cycle, driving in seven of the Rockies' 11 runs.
Gorzelanny also yielded a one-out homer to Clint Barmes in the second inning, followed by three more consecutive hits, including the infield single off his foot that drove him from the game.
"Obviously, I was disappointed I couldn't stay out there," Gorzelanny said. "I needed to get out there and try to get some innings in the game. I was disappointed with how I performed today. I made a couple mistakes and paid for them. I don't want to be taken out of a game just because of an injury. I want to do my best to try and keep us in a game. It just didn't happen."
Esmailin Caridad took the mound in the second, making his Major League debut and eating up 5 1/3 innings, showing poise and grit while saving the bullpen for the critical series with Philadelphia that starts Tuesday at Wrigley Field. He allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out four, walking one and hitting a batter.
"We left him out there as long as we could," Piniella said. "He threw the ball OK. This is not an easy park to pitch in your first Major League start. He basically saved our bullpen."
Caridad's relief effort was the longest out of the Cubs' bullpen in over three years, dating back to Angel Guzman's 5 1/3-inning outing June 16, 2006, against the Tigers.
Caridad was also on the mound for the Cubs' first replay review, when Tulowitzki's towering bases-loaded blast over the left-field foul pole in the second inning was reviewed to determine if it was a home run. The original call stood, and Tulowitzki responded with a two-run single, limiting his RBI total to seven on the night.
"I've never seen a guy drive in nine runs in a game," Piniella said. "Thank God I didn't."
The Cubs' lone run until the ninth inning came on a solo shot from Soto to lead off the sixth. The dinger snapped an 0-for-8 stretch for Soto since returning from the disabled list.
Ryan Theriot, Milton Bradley, pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot, Jake Fox, Soto, Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Baker contributed to a four-run rally in the ninth off Rockies reliever Huston Street, but it was little consolation for a 4-6 road trip.
"It was a tough series, but sometimes it's going to go that way," Fox said, having made his second consecutive start while Ramirez rested his sore shoulder. "I don't think we played extremely poorly. We made a few mistakes, and they made us pay for them, and that's what good teams do. We made some mistakes that they took advantage of, and before you knew it we were trying to climb out of a hole. It's tough to play when you're behind."
The Cubs come home behind the eight ball, losing their hold on first place in the division and facing a three-game hole to climb out of, equal to their Wild Card deficit. They finished the series with Ramirez missing a pair of games and with Kosuke Fukudome sitting out the finale after starting every game on the road trip.
Sam Fuld was 2-for-5 in center field Monday, and Jeff Baker made his second consecutive start at second base, going a combined 4-for-9 with a double and a triple against his old team in the two games.
The Cubs have a quick turnaround before facing the Phillies Tuesday night, and they'll be looking for a lift at the Friendly Confines, where they are 33-19 on the season.
"We just got to go home and regroup, that's all. Period," Piniella concluded.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.