Dickerson's early exit part of Rox day to forget vs. Cubs

Dickerson's early exit part of Rox day to forget vs. Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer in a seven-run first and added a RBI double in the second to lift the Cubs' split-squad to an 18-4 victory over the Rockies on Saturday.

Kris Bryant went 4-for-5 and scored three runs for the Cubs, who collected 21 hits in front of a sellout crowd of 15,266 at Sloan Park.

Arrieta gave up three hits over four scoreless innings and struck out five, then went to the bullpen to finish his pitching duties. The right-hander took advantage of batting eighth, a strategy manager Joe Maddon has been experimenting with this spring.

"It is the pitcher, and it seems like a break in the lineup, but we feel we can do some damage there and help us out," Arrieta said.

The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate in the first. Anthony Rizzo reached on a fielding error by second baseman Charlie Culberson, advanced to third on Bryant's double off the right-field wall, and then scored when catcher Michael McKenry's attempted pickoff throw skipped into left field.

Bryant tallied on Addison Russell's bunt single as starter Jon Gray bobbled the ball. Ryan Sweeney hit an RBI single, and another run scored on David Ross' suicide squeeze, which Gray again had trouble handling. Arrieta then launched his first spring homer to left for a 7-0 lead. Gray struck out Jonathan Herrera, and was lifted.

Gray, the Rockies' first-round pick in 2013, gave up seven runs -- six earned -- on four hits and one walk over two-thirds of an inning.

"I just didn't feel like myself at all," Gray said. "I didn't get strikes early. I didn't give my team a chance. I think I was so worried about being in the zone that I left some too hittable."

Rockies left fielder Corey Dickerson exited before the top of the third with lower back tightness but insisted it's not a big deal. He said his back and hamstrings tightened during a long bottom of the first, when Gray struggled.

"Long inning," Dickerson said. "I fielded a ground ball and my lower back got tight. I just came out -- precautionary. I was up to bat that inning and didn't want to do anything to hurt myself."

Dickerson was scheduled to go with the Rockies' split-squad team that will travel to Hermosillo, Mexico, on Sunday to face a D-backs' split-squad.

Up next: The Rockies have split-squad games with the D-backs on Sunday, one at Salt River Fields, the other at Hermosillo, Mexico, with both starting at 2:10 p.m. MDT. In Scottsdale, live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio, righty Jordan Lyles will try to bounce back from a rough last start, when he hit three White Sox batters in four innings. In Mexico, righty rotation competitor Christian Bergman will start after pitching four scorelsss innings against the White Sox in his last outing.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.