Cubs blast off to back Hammel, hand Rox first loss
By Carrie Muskat and Owen Perkins
DENVER -- The Cubs finally found their offense. Starlin Castro, Chris Coghlan and Mike Olt each belted solo home runs and Dexter Fowler hit two triples and drove in two runs Saturday night to spark the Cubs to a 9-5 victory over the Rockies and even the series at one win apiece.
Coghlan and Olt belted consecutive homers in the third and Castro launched a monster shot to open the fifth, all off Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick. The Cubs had scored just three runs in their first three games combined before Saturday.
"The at-bats have been good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's just the ebb and flow of the season, and you want to get more consistent. I think our judgment at the plate has been good."
The Cubs had a scare when Olt had to leave the game in the ninth after he was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. X-rays were negative, which was a relief. More >
"It's a scary spot to get hit," Olt said. "There's not much meat around it. I'll be able to sleep tonight."
Jason Hammel benefited from the offense. He went six innings and scattered eight hits, including a two-run homer by Nolan Arenado in the Rockies second.
"He pitched really well," said the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, who was 0-for-3 against Hammel. "He mixed it up well. His breaking ball was good, and his fastball command was really good, too. It was just one of those things. You have to tip your cap to him."
Kendrick, who was Colorado's Opening Day starter, gave up a career-high eight runs over five-plus innings and took the loss, the Rockies' first after a 4-0 start.
"I was behind in the count, walking guys, a lot of three-ball counts," Kendrick said of his lack of command. "I had to make some pitches and couldn't execute."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Homecoming: For Fowler, there's no place like the ballpark he used to call home. Fowler had hit 33 triples at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies, and added two more Saturday. He smacked the first pitch from Kendrick into right-center, and scored on Jorge Soler's sacrifice fly. The Cubs had two on and one out in the second when Fowler delivered another triple to open a 3-0 lead. More >
"I like triples," Fowler said. "I like hitting triples here."
Back to back: The Cubs ranked second in the Major Leagues this spring in home runs but didn't connect in their first three games. Coghlan and Olt changed that in the third. The Cubs hit back-to-back homers eight times last season.
First faux pas: The Rockies made their first error of the season in the sixth as center fielder Charlie Blackmon fielded an RBI single off the bat of Soler, then bobbled the ball trying to get his throw off, allowing Soler to advance to second while Fowler moved to third. Fowler scored on Anthony Rizzo's grounder to first, and Soler scored on an infield single to third, giving the Cubs a six-run lead.
"Everybody was awesome. Everybody was like, 'We miss you.' It was kind of an emotional day." -- Fowler on coming back to Coors Field, which was his home for six seasons with the Rockies.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Saturday was Fowler's first game with two triples since he did so Aug. 29, 2010, at Coors Field while playing for the Rockies against the Dodgers, and fourth time in his career.
• Hammel had pitched for the Rockies from 2009-11, but had never pitched against them until Saturday. He had made at least three starts against every other Major League team.
• The three home runs by the Cubs were their first this season. Top prospect Kris Bryant, playing at Triple-A Iowa, joined in, hitting his first home run in a game against Memphis. More >
• Kendrick's three home runs allowed matched his career high. The Rockies had only served up one home run in their first four games of the season before Saturday.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks makes his first start of the season on Sunday against the Rockies as the Cubs close their first road trip of the season. Hendricks doesn't seem to be bothered by hitters ballparks. This spring in Las Vegas, he threw five perfect innings against the A's. On Aug. 7 last year, he gave up one earned run on five hits over eight innings at Coors Field for a win over the Rockies. The game will be broadcast on WGN and WBBM radio, with first pitch scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT.
Rockies: Jordan Lyles seeks to deliver on the promise he has shown as a pitcher who can win at altitude. He has posted a 5-1 record in 11 career Coors Field starts spanning 63 innings. He opened 2014 on a 5-0 tear in his first eight starts, but lost momentum after fracturing his left hand on June 4 while covering the plate after a wild pitch. Lyles notched a win in his first start of the season, allowing five hits and two runs in six innings against Milwaukee.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Owen Perkins in a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.