Szczur, Cubs post big eighth, as do Rockies

Szczur, Cubs post big eighth, as do Rockies

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs and Rockies each got strong performances from starters expected to be stalwarts in their rotations Monday. The teams played a tight game through seven innings in front of a sellout crowd of 13,380 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick before Matt Szczur's two-run homer paced a six-run eighth in a 9-6 Cubs victory.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs in the fourth. The Major League ERA leader in 2016 at 2.13, Hendricks maintained a torrid strikeout pace Monday, running his Cactus League tally to 14 in 13 2/3 innings.

Hendricks K's Blackmon

Hendricks eyes first 200-innings campaign

Rockies starter Tyler Anderson was solid, throwing five innings and keeping the World Series champs to three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out four and walking none.

"In terms of executing, it was probably better than the line, but there were a couple hitters there where it got away for a little bit, "Anderson said. "In the real season you don't have the luxury of doing that. You have to lock in for the entire time. It's a good learning point."

Anderson K's Schwarber

Chicago opened the scoring in the third with a leadoff double to center by Jeimer Candelario. Munenori Kawasaki singled to left to put runners on the corners, and Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. plated them with a single to right and a sacrifice fly, respectively. Schwarber delivered on manager Joe Maddon's assertion that he could change the offense from the top of the order, and his ability to plate a run and propel a rally as the lineup turned over made an honest man of his manager.

Schwarber's RBI single

"When you see [Schwarber] up there, you can't really [take it easy]," Hendricks said of the Cubs' new leadoff man. "There might be an adjustment from the league as far as how aggressive they are out of the gate instead of feeling out that first pitch. 'Schwarbs' will take a cut at the first one anyway, it doesn't matter. I love being on this side. Facing [the Cubs' lineup], I would definitely change some things for sure."

Chicago added on in the fourth when Szczur bunted to the pitcher for a base hit and advanced to second on Anderson's errant throw. Szczur came home on back-to-back flies to center in the midst of a 3-for-4 day.

The Rockies rallied in the fourth with Trevor Story's leadoff double to left. Raimel Tapia reached on an infield single deep in the gap between first and second. Cristhian Adames and Dustin Garneau delivered run-scoring singles before Szczur ran down a drive to the wall in the right-field corner to end the inning with the Cubs up by a run.

Adames' RBI single

Ian Happ, the Cubs' top pick in the 2015 Draft, was 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to raise his Cactus League average to .400.

Colorado closer Greg Holland was sharp, pitching the sixth inning and allowing one hit while striking out two in his third Cactus League game. His fastball topped out at 94.4 mph.

Holland K's two in the 6th

Jairo Diaz made his first appearance for the Rockies since missing all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery. He retired the first two hitters he faced before giving up five runs on four hits and a walk in the eighth. His fastball reached 98.8 mph.

Diaz fans Almora Jr.

Diaz's fastball blazing in return from Tommy John

Max White hit a two-run double in a four-run eighth as the Rockies cut the Cubs' lead to 9-6, but Jordan Patterson -- who represented the potential tying run -- grounded out to end the frame.

White's two-run double

Cubs Up Next: After an off-day Tuesday, the Cubs resume Cactus League play Wednesday against the Reds in Goodyear. Ryan Williams will start for Chicago. First pitch will be 8:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Jon Lester is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game that day to stay on schedule.

Rockies Up Next: The Rockies are off Tuesday, but Tyler Chatwood will throw five innings in a Minor League intrasquad game at 10:30 a.m. MT on Field 1 at Salt River Fields to keep on his schedule. When the team returns Wednesday against the Reds at 2:10 p.m. MT on MLB.TV, expect to see Carlos Gonzalez back in the lineup following his stint with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez hit .308 (8-for-26) with a pair of doubles in seven Classic games.

CarGo enjoys WBC '17, happy to rejoin Rockies

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.