Bryant hits walk-off blast to beat Rockies
CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant belted a two-run walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth Monday night to power the Cubs to a 9-8 victory over the Rockies, who had scored four runs in their half of the inning.
The Rockies got another shock after the game as five-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins were reportedly traded to the Blue Jays for four-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and prospects.
Carlos Gonzalez hit a pair of two-run homers for the Rockies, including his 20th of the season with one out in the ninth, which gave Colorado an 8-7 lead. Gonzalez, named National League Co-Player of the Week after batting .476 last week, connected on his sixth and seventh homers in the last five games. He hit a two-run homer with two outs in the third off Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks, and then another in the ninth off Rafael Soriano. The Rockies totaled four runs in the ninth, including one on pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso's home run off Jason Motte.
"At the end of the day, it's about the 'W,'" Gonzalez said. "We battled the whole game. Bryant is a special player. You can't fall asleep with that guy. It's one of those amazing swings that can change a game, and he did it."
But with one out in the Cubs ninth, Dexter Fowler singled, and one out later, Bryant launched a pitch to left-center off John Axford for the game-winner, and his first career walk-off hit. Bryant also hit a RBI single in the game, and now has 59 RBIs, which leads all rookies.
"It's really fun," Bryant said of his walk-off hit. "It's got to be one of the best feelings in sports. I've had a couple of those in my career, but they were both in college, and one last year [in the Minor Leagues]. To do it on this stage, in front of the fans here in Chicago, and for myself, I've been struggling a little bit, but I'm never going to give up. I know it's going to turn around and it did today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rally time: The Cubs have been scuffling offensively and did not have a runner in scoring position on Sunday. They made up for that in the fourth inning Monday, overcoming a 4-0 deficit and scoring six runs, including two on Starlin Castro's go-ahead single, to chase Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa. Manager Joe Maddon and hitting coach John Mallee had worked with Castro before the game. The shortstop began the day batting .139 in July. The Cubs were 5-for-7 with RISP in the inning. More >
"That six-run inning, we definitely needed that and it made us feel a whole lot better," Maddon said.
CarGo can't be confined: After sizzling during the Rockies' just-completed homestand, Gonzalez came to the right place to keep producing. His two-run homer in the third off Hendricks, the opposite way to left-center, gave him six in his first 55 at-bats at Wrigley. Then, after Descalso's leadoff homer in the top of the ninth, Gonzalez put a crowning touch on the night by pulling Soriano's 1-2 pitch over the ivy in right. More >
How do you stop Gonzalez?
"That's a good question," Hendricks said. "He's really hot. The pitch I threw him was down and it caught too much plate. You kind of just walk him, I guess. That's the best answer for that."
Finishing touch: Maddon is still trying to find the right combo for the end of games. On Friday, Jason Motte blew his first save of the season, and Monday, Motte gave up three runs in the ninth as the Rockies rallied, and Rafael Soriano was charged with a blown save as he served up Gonzalez's second two-run homer of the game. Maddon prefers using matchups, not one closer.
"We have to keep trying to put the right guys on the right people in the latter part of the game," Maddon said. "We have a lot of talent in the latter part of the game. We just have to get better and not permit the other team to think they can get back into it."
Start me up: Hendricks got off to a rough start, needing 31 pitches to get through the Rockies' first. The Cubs starter had a fairly quick second and fifth innings, but was lifted after throwing 104 pitches over five-plus innings. It was a better outing than his previous start against the Reds when he gave up four runs before retiring a batter.
Axford misery: Axford entered Monday not having yielded a run on the road all season. But now the question is whether Axford is slumping everywhere. Bryant's homer extended his slump to six runs and two blown saves in his last four games, covering 3 1/3 innings. Axford has also been the subject of trade rumors. More >
Earlier in the ninth, Axford thought he had struck out Dexter Fowler earlier in the inning, but didn't get the call from plate umpire Mark Carlson and wound up yielding a single.
"I don't want to say poor things about umpires -- they're the best in the world and that's why they're umpiring Major League Baseball games -- but he missed that call," Axford said. "I even went back and looked at video and he missed it.
"Obviously, I'm not going to put all the blame on him. I made a bad pitch to Bryant and he hit a two-run homer. But Dexter should've been out."
"The last three or four games, I've hit five or six to the warning track and that's obviously frustrating. I believe in baseball gods and I believe they pay you back, and I guess I got one today. It worked out for us. It was a really good win, that's for sure." -- Bryant, on his walk-off home run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the Cubs' Major League-leading 10th walk-off win, their most since the 1996 season when they totaled 11 walk-off victories.
Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu extended his hit streak to a career-best 17 games. After going 3-for-4, LeMahieu -- who was with the Cubs before being traded to the Rockies in December 2011 -- is hitting .327 (18-for-55) at Wrigley.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu were at second and first, respectively, and attempted a double steal. Rookie catcher Kyle Schwarber threw to Bryant at third, and Blackmon was originally called safe, but the Cubs challenged the call, and after review, it was overturned.
Rockies: With righty Chad Bettis on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation, the Rockies are going with lefty Yohan Flande (0-1, 4.24 ERA), who will be making his first Major League start of the season, against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night at 6:05 p.m. MT (850 KOA/Root Sports Rocky Mountain).
Cubs: Dallas Beeler will make his third big league start Tuesday when he faces the Rockies. The right-hander's two previous starts have been filling in as the 26th man in doubleheaders on July 7 against the Cardinals and on July 22 against the Reds. So far, he's given up five earned runs on 10 hits over seven innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
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