Coors Field no house of horrors for Lackey

Coors Field no house of horrors for Lackey

DENVER -- Coors Field often feels like a house of horrors for some pitchers, but in the nightcap to Tuesday's doubleheader, Cubs starter John Lackey turned the park into a fun house, capped by an 8-1 win over the Rockies.

Lackey threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10, making him just the second visiting pitcher to hit those benchmarks in the same game. Pedro Martinez also accomplished the feat in 1997 when he struck out 13.

Brian Bohanan (nine innings, four hits, 10 strikeouts in 1997) and John Gray (nine innings, four hits, 16 strikeouts in 2016) also accomplished the feat for the Rockies.

"It has been [a house of horrors] most of the time for me," Lackey said. "I think that's the first time I've done good here. I've taken a couple beatings in this place."

Martinez allowed five hits in his outing -- albeit over nine innings -- but Lackey becomes the first visiting pitcher to hit the seven scoreless, 10 strikeouts, and only four hits allowed trifecta.

"One thing I know about baseball is I have no idea," Lackey said. "You never know what's going to happen."

After a rough week with an 18-inning loss to the Yankees on Sunday, an all-night flight to Colorado, a lengthy rain delay and postponement Monday, and a 10-4 thrashing in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, Lackey's performance was exactly what the Cubs were craving.

"That was outstanding," manager Joe Madden said. "He really picked us up. We needed that kind of a start. We're used to getting that kind of starting performance from our entire staff, so hopefully he's going to set the tone moving forward. It was really fun to watch. He had a really, really good breaking ball, slider today and commanded everything."

The command was evidenced in the fact that 76 of his season-high 105 pitches were strikes -- his best strike-per-pitch ratio of the season at 72.4 percent. He notched 35 of those strikes as non-contact strikes -- either called or swung at and missed -- for his second highest total of the season.

"They're a really good hitting ballclub, so that's pretty good," Maddon said of the Rockies. "They beat us bad the first game. We're running on fumes a bit. We've had some very difficult games. But starting pitching drives the engine, don't ever be deceived."

Lackey came into Colorado feeling more like a caboose, with a 9.19 ERA in three previous Coors Field starts spanning 16 2/3 innings. He put those numbers in the rear view mirror as the high humidity -- 46%, or roughly double a typical day at Coors Field -- may have aided his breaking stuff.

"I located the ball pretty good," Lackey said. "The slider, curveball, in between was pretty good. I was spinning it pretty good."

The Rockies finally scored a run once Lackey left the game, but they were stymied for seven frames against the right-hander.

"There was a little bit of variance to his breaking ball, the velocity -- 3-4 mph," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "There's an 83-84 mph breaking ball, a 78-80. He was able to really mix. He threw a couple front-door breaking balls to our right-handed hitters. It starts on the left hip of a right-handed hitter and breaks in at the corner. He humped up a couple times at 92 to get it by us. So John pitched. He really did."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.