Volstad cracks into win column with strong outing

Volstad cracks into win column with strong outing

Volstad cracks into win column with strong outing
CHICAGO -- After waiting 413 days and 24 starts without a win, the longest wait for Chris Volstad must have been the extra 30 minutes on Sunday when umpires called for the tarp because of rain.

"The tarp being pulled in the ninth inning, it's like, 'C'mon, let's get it over with,'" Volstad said. "It's only fitting that it took pretty long, right?"

The delay gave his teammates enough time to prep for a victory shower. Volstad could finally celebrate a win Sunday, ending a string of 24 consecutive winless starts as the Cubs edged the Rockies, 5-0.

It was Volstad's first "W" since he beat the Astros way back on July 17, 2011. If that seems like a long time ago, it was. He had to wait even longer as the start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 23 minutes, and was called after eight innings and another 30-minute delay.

Hopefully, he'll get the "W" flag flying on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard after the game.

"It was nice for him and I know that's a huge monkey off his back," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I think the team was incredibly happy for him."

Not as happy as Volstad (1-9), who was pitching for the Marlins the last time he won a game. He gave up three hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking three. His reward? The Cubs took the series, and he was showered in beer.

"He was really excited," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said of Volstad. "When you're an offensive position player and you have a game where your team wins and you contribute and have a couple knocks, you go home feeling pretty good about yourself. He hasn't had one of those days in a while. He hasn't had that day when everything worked out and they didn't get a cheap hit off him and the defense picked him up.

"He's been pitching pretty consistent of late and has been just getting some bad luck, and today we were able to get him a lead," Barney said. "It was good. I think he liked the little shower we gave him."

"I got a pretty big welcome reception, whatever you want to call it, when they called the game," Volstad said. "Everybody was pretty happy. I was pretty happy as well."

The Cubs had scored one or no runs while Volstad was on the mound in eight of his 12 starts prior to Sunday. He had not received more than three runs of support in a game until Sunday.

"The biggest thing was me putting up zeros -- that's always nice," Volstad said. "They definitely backed me today and did a good job at the plate."

The Cubs delivered when needed. Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the second against Jhoulys Chacin (1-4) and scored two batters later on Barney's groundout. Adam Ottavino walked Castro to open the sixth, and he scored two outs later on Barney's bloop single to center. Castro also scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Joe Mather in a three-run eighth.

"I think he's handled it as good as anybody can handle it," Sveum said of Volstad. "He's very calm and collected most of the time. He doesn't show a lot of emotion, good or bad. He just goes about his business and works and is trying to make adjustments.

"We haven't gotten him a lot of run support either," Sveum said. "He's handled everything extremely well for the adversity he's had to go through."

The record for longest winless streak is 28 starts, shared by Jo-Jo Reyes (2008-11) and Matt Keough (1978-79). Volstad doesn't have to worry about being added to that list.

He served up a one-out single to Wilin Rosario in the second and a two-out single to Jordan Pacheco in the fourth. With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Colvin doubled and Chris Nelson walked, and Volstad was pulled, tipping his cap to the crowd as he exited. Manuel Corpas got Jonathan Herrera to hit into a force at second to end the threat.

The key? Volstad had good command of his fastball, mixed in an occasional curveball and threw a handful of sliders.

"We didn't hit today," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Let's face it, we got four hits today, three of them with two out and nobody on. You're not going to do a whole lot."

Volstad, accustomed to rain delays from his days with the Marlins, knows there have been factors contributing to his streak other than his performance. Sometimes luck is involved.

"There are a lot of things out of my control, out of the pitcher's control, to get a win or loss," he said. "Maybe it's been a little bit of bad luck for me over the last year and a month, or whatever it was, but that's baseball. Sometimes you throw well and don't get that win and get a loss, and sometimes you don't [throw well] and you do get a win. I think that's why the streak, or whatever you want to call it, wasn't a huge issue. I knew how I finished last year, and a couple games this year, everything just didn't come together."

It did on Sunday.

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.