DENVER -- John Lackey struck out 10 in seven innings of a strike-throwing exhibition to subdue the Rockies, and the Cubs took advantage of risky defense to win, 8-1 on Tuesday night to earn a split of a split doubleheader at Coors Field.
Lackey (3-3) entered Tuesday 0-2 with a 9.18 ERA at Coors Field.
"It has been [a house of horrors] most of the time for me," Lackey said. "I've taken a couple beating in this place."
But on Tuesday, Lackey threw 76 of his 105 pitches for strikes -- a season-best 72.4 percent -- while holding the National League West-leading Rockies to four hits, just one after the second. More >>
"He had good command of the fastball, and the breaking ball was thrown at any time of the game," said Rockies manager Bud Black, who complimented Lackey -- a pitcher he worked with while the Angels' pitching coach several years back -- on varying speeds on breaking balls and finding a velocity when he needed it on the fastball.
Rockies rookie lefty Kyle Freeland (3-2) went six innings, with four hits, six strikeouts and four walks. He was solid outside of the second inning -- when he surrendered five runs. Two runs were unearned because shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman DJ LeMahieu each committed errors on exciting but desperate flips to second, attempting to steal outs.
"They made some great plays, first of all," Maddon said, giving the Rockies credit for getting to challenging balls. "They were the back ends of these things [when they made the errors]. Back-handed flips. Otherwise they made some great plays. They're a really outstanding defensive team."
Freeland had a bases-loaded walk in the second but rebounded to retire 13 of the last 14 Cubs he faced. More >>
"There was one blemish, one inning, where I didn't have my stuff and things didn't fall my way or the team's way, and the result was five runs," Freeland said.
The Cubs' Javier Baez knocked his fifth homer of the season, a two-run, opposite-way shot off Mike Dunn in the eighth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Abraca … never mind: Story dove to stop Addison Russell's hard grounder with one on and one on in the second, rolled over and flipped wide of second for an error that put runners at second and third. Three batters later, first baseman Mark Reynolds dove, but the ball ticked off his glove. LeMahieu retrieved it but made a wild flip to second, and two runs scored.
"In the first game, our big inning was aided by a couple big breaks that went our way," Black said. "Trevor made a great play on a smash to his right and tried to make a play, and it just didn't happen for us. And the ball ricocheted off Reynolds."
He's got a bat; he's dangerous: With one out, Freeland pitched around Willson Contreras to load the bases and face Lackey, batting eighth. But with a .300 average, Lackey is no easy out. Lackey laced Freeland's first pitch -- a 93.6 mph fastball -- over a leaping LeMahieu and into right-center for an RBI. It made Freeland had to work harder to get through the frame..
"The only thing I really care about hitting is having more hits than Jon Lester," Lackey said, ribbing his fellow pitcher in the next locker. "I'm a much better hitter than he is."
"It's the barometric pressure version of slider and curveball versus a lower barometric pressure situation. And also the rotation of the earth has something to do with it." -- Madden's foray into the science behind the heightened humidity (46%, or more than double the average at Coors Field) that gave both Lackey and Brian Duensing their best breaking balls of the season
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Lackey is the second visiting pitcher with 10 or more strikeouts and no walks in seven or more innings runs at Coors. Pedro Martinez threw nine with 13 strikeouts on July 29, 1997. Two home pitchers have accomplished the feat -- Jon Gray with 16 strikeouts in nine innings against the Padres last Sept. 17, and Brian Bohanon with nine innings and 10 strikeouts against the Phillies on Aug. 28, 1999, in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Rockies have played 51 doubleheaders in their existence.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks toes the rubber for the Cubs in Wednesday's series finale at 2:10 p.m. CT,, bringing an impressive 3.44 Coors Field ERA to the game. In his only 2016 outing at Coors, Hendricks held the Rockies to one run on four hits over six innings.
Rockies: Righty German Marquez (0-2, 7.31 ERA) has made three starts -- a scoreless six innings on the road at Arizona and two rocky starts at Coors. He'll try to pitch better this time out in the series finale Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. MT.