Rox can't overcome homers at Wrigley
Kim surrenders three home runs in 5-1 loss to Cubs
CHICAGO -- The Colorado Rockies search for light has led them to Byung-Hyun Kim's performance on Saturday.
Kim gave up five runs, including three home runs, in the Rockies' 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs in front of 39,368 at Wrigley Field.
If the Rockies were more successful, the day by Kim (0-3) would be chalked up to a reliever taking one for the team in a spot start, brought on by Shawn Chacon's ankle injury. But the performance could lead to a promotion to the starting rotation for Kim.
That's because it's being evaluated in the grand scheme of a 2-7 road trip, with one more game with the Cubs to go, and records of 4-22 on the road and 15-32 overall.
Chacon's return to the rotation in five days is iffy. Kim, who had given up just a Derrek Lee home run until yielding two-run shots to Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the sixth, would have to fill in again. But Kim could be breathing down the neck of right-hander Jamey Wright, who has struggled at home all year and stumbled in two starts this road trip. Wright starts Monday night at home against St. Louis.
Manager Clint Hurdle was careful not to jump to a conclusion, but said a move is worth considering.
"We're in a position now where [Kim] has been more productive as a starter," Hurdle said. "We've given our starters ample opportunity to become productive or consistent. If there's a situation where we might have to make a little adjustment, bump a guy, that's what we need to do.
"Jamey's going to get the ball. He's pitching two days from now, so he'll have a stake in what goes on from there if he takes the ball and goes about his business Monday at home. We've got to leave our options open."
For Kim's part, he diplomatically said, "We've got five guys here," but added, "I like starting."
But Kim blamed himself for the way Saturday finished.
The sizzling Lee, 6-for-10 with four home runs and six RBIs as the Cubs have won two of the first three games against Colorado, swatted a Kim fastball over the wall in left-center in the first inning. But Kim was solid thereafter.
Kim retired eight of the next 10 batters, and pitched out of a one-out, second-and-third jam in the fifth by striking out Cubs starter Glendon Rusch and enticing Neifi Perez into a popup.
In his other start, in place of Joe Kennedy on May 11, Kim went five innings and held Atlanta to one run. On Saturday, Hurdle noted that Kim forced nine ground-ball outs and had thrown just 69 pitches. He had 91 in the game against the Braves.
Kim also thought he was strong enough to continue and told pitching coach Bob Apodaca as much before the sixth. But Kim quickly learned that was a miscalculation when he gave up a Todd Walker triple, followed by the Lee homer.
"The pitching coach, Bob, asked, and I said I was OK," Kim said. "[In] the sixth, my arm felt heavier. I gave up the home run. It was stupid, just stupid."
Kim and the Rockies also are left to lament his fastball over the plate to Lee, after he had thrown a better slider.
Hurdle called it a "hard situation," but didn't intentionally walk Lee because he might have stolen second -- catcher Todd Greene is 1-for-21 against basestealers and Lee has stolen eight of nine bases. Then the Rockies would have been facing Jeromy Burnitz with runners at second and third.
As it turned out, Burnitz singled with the bases empty, and Ramirez homered.
Center fielder Preston Wilson, who drove in Colorado's only run on a third-inning double, said the approach to Lee was ill-advised.
Wilson compared it to the Colorado fifth, when Rusch (4-1) pitched around leadoff man Clint Barmes with one out and runners at second and third, then forced a Luis Gonzalez double-play grounder.
"Sometimes you have to play smart to the situation," Wilson said. "They decided they weren't going to let Barmes beat them with a base open.
"With Lee at the plate, you can't give him a chance to drive those runs in. You've got to let somebody else beat you as well as he's been swinging the bat the whole series."
Rusch held the Rockies to four hits in seven innings. All were doubles -- one by Gonzalez two batters before Wilson knocked an RBI double in the fourth, and the others by Dustan Mohr in the third and fifth innings.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.