An emotional trip in the Windy City ended Wednesday afternoon as the Colorado Rockies dropped a 3-2 decision to the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
A series that began with a heartbreaking ninth-inning loss followed by the stunning trade of Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night wrapped up on Wednesday with Jon Lester striking out 14 Colorado batters and former Rockies leadoff man Dexter Fowler kicking off the game with a solo home run off Eddie Butler.
Fowler would haunt his old team in the Wrigley Field sunshine, reaching base in his first three plate appearances and scoring two of Chicago’s three runs.
Butler, in his second outing since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque, gave up two homers amongst the five hits he surrendered. Those homers would account for all of the Cubs’ runs as Chicago jumped out to a 3-0 advantage after three innings.
Down 3-0, Colorado would start chipping away at the Cubs’ lead with Nolan Arenado plating Charlie Blackmon with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to slice Chicago’s advantage to 3-1. Carlos Gonzalez continued his torrid hitting with a solo blast to center off Lester to pull the Rockies within 3-2 in the seventh. That, however, would be as much offense as Colorado could muster against Chicago’s prize offseason free agent pickup.
Gonzalez is now 16-for-40 (.400) over his last 10 games and has eight homers during that stretch. In all, 11 of his 21 home runs on the season have come in July, further circulating the rumors that he’s the next big-name Colorado player to be traded.
Lester was simply dominant on Wednesday, striking out seven batters in the game’s first three innings. He struck out at least one batter in each of the eight innings he pitched on his way to the most strikeouts for a Cub since Mark Prior totaled 16 on September 30, 2004. His strikeout total was also the most for a Chicago southpaw since 1914.
In all, Colorado batters struck out 16 times on Wednesday, including twice in the final inning against Chicago reliever Hector Rondon, who earned his 13th save of the season.
Meet the new guy: Jose Reyes, acquired in the Tulowitzki trade, made his Colorado debut on Wednesday. Batting second, the veteran shortstop went 1-for-3, stole a base, and drew a walk.
Swiped: Blackmon stole two bases on Wednesday, upping his team-leading total to 27, just one behind the career-high 28 he established last season. The Colorado center fielder ranks fourth in MLB in stolen bases.
On to St. Louis: Colorado opens a four-game series at Busch Stadium on Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. Colorado took two of three games from the National League Central leaders in June at Coors Field.