Bettis sets tone as Rockies halt Cubs' surge

April 15th, 2016

CHICAGO -- Chad Bettis cooled off what had been a hot Cubs lineup, throwing six shutout innings in the Rockies' 6-1 victory on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field on Jackie Robinson Day.

Bettis struck out four and gave up three hits and three walks on the way to his second win this season. In his 12 outings since July 12, 2015, Bettis has seven quality starts, a 6-2 record and a 3.23 ERA. But afterward, Bettis challenged himself to be even better.

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"First off, I would have liked to have been more efficient than I was -- three walks for me through six innings is not where I want to be right now," said Bettis, who threw 98 pitches. "That being said, I did feel very comfortable with my tempo and how my pitches were moving, and there were some great plays behind me."

Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, who also handled Bettis' seven-inning, two-run (one earned) victory over the Padres on Sunday, called Bettis "dominant" in all quadrants of the strike zone, and added that Bettis is already planning his next start.

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Bettis outdueled Kyle Hendricks, who allowed four runs (two earned) in six innings. Hendricks threw 83 pitches -- 67 strikes, but the Cubs committed four errors in an uneven defensive performance that contributed to their rough day. Although the Cubs scored a run in the seventh, their four hits against Bettis and the Rockies' bullpen led to their lowest run total of the season.

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"We've been playing some great baseball, and we'll still continue to do that," Cubs shortstop Addison Russell said. "Today we just didn't adjust to them playing small ball. If we do that, we'll have a good shot at winning."

The victory was the Rockies' fourth win in five games and snapped a five-game Cubs winning streak.


Not stopping, but getting his team going: The Rockies' two-run sixth inning against Hendricks opened with what has become a constant -- a Carlos Gonzalez hit. Gonzalez has a 20-game hit streak, dating back to last season. Gonzalez's forte is power, and he has eight career homers at Wrigley. But he recognized the wind conditions and controlled his swing. Both his singles went the opposite way to left.

"It was just good baseball," Gonzalez said. "We knew it was going to be a tough day with the wind blowing in." More >

Not-so-safe squeeze: The Cubs missed one of their best chances of the day in the bottom of the fifth, when Hendricks came to the plate with one out and runners on first and third. Hendricks squared to bunt on a safety squeeze, and Jorge Soler broke for the plate as Hendricks' bunt headed toward a charging Ben Paulsen. Paulsen fielded the ball and quickly tossed home, where Soler was tagged out. Dexter Fowler followed with a flyout to end the inning.

"We had talked about that," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I know they like to do that [with runners on] first and third. Benny executed it perfectly." More >

Arenado first to third: In his fourth season, third baseman Nolan Arenado knows all about the Rockies' hoary offensive history on the road. So with the wind blowing in and Hendricks a difficult task, baserunning became important. Arenado reached because of a tough error charged to Hendricks to open the second. Then the below-average-running Arenado -- knowing that Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler was not expecting aggression -- took third on Ryan Raburn's single. It set up the Rockies' first run, on Ben Paulsen's single.

"I thought it was an opportunity," Arenado said. "We've been focusing on that, running the bases smart -- not so much aggressive, but running the bases smart."

Small ball, big errors: The Cubs entered this game with a league-best .994 fielding percentage and had gone five games without an error. In addition to Hendricks' mishap on a comebacker in the second, Kris Bryant had two errors, both on weakly hit balls. Bryant mishandled a Bettis chopper in the fifth, and in the seventh, Bryant fielded a Brandon Barnes bunt but threw wide of first base, allowing a run to score. Russell had multiple displays of slick glovework in the game, but he also made a throwing error in the eighth. That mistake, combined with Anthony Rizzo's boot on a fielder's choice later in the inning, allowed Gerardo Parra score.

"It was a weird game all around," Hendricks said. "The few errors, I even had a couple where it felt like my glove had a hole in it or something. Just a weird day."


"We played a little bit of small ball today and ran the bases very well … it was a great team win." -- Weiss

"The Bus was tough there, you're absolutely right. You talk about a ground game."

-- Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on Bettis, referencing former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis


After winning the previous two games over the Giants with 16 extra-base hits, including a club-record 12 Wednesday night, the Rockies won Friday with all 10 of their hits being singles.


Home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck left the game in the top of the eighth inning after he took a foul ball off the bat of Wolters to the area near his throat. The crew finished the game with three umpires, as third-base umpire Clint Fagan shifted behind the plate.


Rockies: Right-hander Christian Bergman (0-1, 12.00 ERA in two relief appearances) will make a spot start and become the fifth man to start for the Rockies this year when he faces the Cubs on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. MT.

Cubs:Jake Arrieta (2-0, 1.93 ERA) will make his third career start against the Rockies on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Arrieta is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA against Colorado, but in his lone start against them at Wrigley Field, he allowed one run and three hits over seven innings.

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