Rockies fall to Cubs, as skid hits seven
Jimenez throws five solid innings in losing cause, his sixth defeat
CHICAGO -- Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez insists he doesn't give in to the emotional pain from a can't-win season.
He didn't succumb when the Cubs' Ryan Theriot smashed a line drive off his left knee in the first inning on Sunday afternoon, but that may be because his body tolerated it because his nerve centers couldn't comprehend the pain.
"I couldn't even feel my leg -- I just had a cramp," Jimenez said. "I didn't want to come out of the game."
Jimenez went on to muster a gritty, if flawed, five-inning effort. Nonetheless, the Rockies dropped their seventh straight, 5-3, at Wrigley Field, in the process extending their club-record road losing streak to 12 games. Colorado is now 8-23 on the road, overall.
A Rockies road trip in which they've been swept in three games by the Phillies and four by the Cubs, baseball's hottest team and winners of seven straight, rolls to Dodger Stadium on Monday night for the first of three.
Jimenez (1-6), who will receive treatment before the Rockies schedule his next start, had some strong sequences while giving up four runs (three earned) and striking out five. But he once again ran into the issue that just might be the last hurdle to his realizing his considerable potential.
The Rockies took a 2-1 lead into the fourth, but Jimenez couldn't provide what manager Clint Hurdle likes to call a "shutdown inning." Jim Edmonds, who had tripled off Jimenez earlier, tied the game with an RBI double.
And has been the case all year, the Rockies made a key mistake when second baseman Ian Stewart batted Mark DeRosa's slow grounder into foul ground for an error that allowed the go-ahead run across.
Jimenez was awful in April, posting a 5.90 ERA in six starts, with 22 walks and 23 strikeouts. But he managed a respectable 3.16 ERA in his first four May starts, before giving up seven runs in four innings at Philadelphia in his last start of the month. Still, the Rockies are 1-11 when Jimenez pitches.
In most games, low run support -- his was the sixth-lowest run support among National League starters going into Sunday -- was a bigger problem than Jimenez's pitching.
But Jimenez, 24, who came up from the Minors after the All-Star break last year and helped the Rockies make it to the World Series, needs to show he can take advantage of the opportunities he's given, no matter how small.
"That's the next step," Jimenez said. "Every time we get ahead, just close the door."
Edmonds, released by the Padres earlier this season, had struggled since joining the Cubs, but he delivered a big series against the Rockies and he bit Jimenez again in the fifth. The Cubs loaded the bases in the inning, but Jimenez fanned Kosuke Fukudome for the third time and struck out Geovany Soto. Edmonds drew a bases-loaded walk.
While acknowledging that Jimenez has to learn not to give up leads as soon as the hitters gain them, Hurdle said Jimenez's toughness impressed him.
"I think he made it look like [the line drive to the knee] wasn't an issue," Hurdle said. "He got hit square on the knee. There are seams on his knee from the ball. He gutted it out and still made pitches. He made some good sequences of pitches, too. If we can make that play in the infield behind him, who knows how that thing spins out?"
This season is harder for Jimenez than last. Hurdle acknowledged that the development may be positive.
"Sometimes, there's no growth through success," Hurdle said. "The talent just takes over, and you go. He's had to learn a lot of things."
The Rockies on Sunday were much like Jimenez -- gritty, but flawed.
Cubs right-hander Sean Gallagher (3-1), a 22-year-old standout, held the Rockies to three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight. For the game, the Rockies fanned 12 times, and no player managed more than one hit.
Yorvit Torrealba's two-out RBI double cut the difference to 4-3 in the sixth. But Cubs reliever Michael Wuertz ended the rally when he walked pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs, playing with a bruised left wrist, and struck out pinch-hitter Willy Taveras looking.
And any momentum gained from that run disappeared in the bottom of the sixth when Rockies reliever Manuel Corpas gave up a solo shot to Alfonso Soriano.The Cubs bullpen held on until Kerry Wood earned his 14th save with a clean ninth.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing at this level," Hurdle said. "There are just a lot of crooked paths that hang you up."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.