DENVER – The Cubs are piling up the hits.
Unfortunately for them, they’re not getting them when it counts most.
The Cubs outhit Colorado 10-5, but another dismal performance with runners in scoring position cost them in a 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Sunday.
Starlin Castro had four hits, matching a career high, and Anthony Rizzo homered for the Cubs, who lost their first series in three weeks after winning Friday night.
“We’re probably lucky to win one in this series scoring three runs in each game and going 1 for 25 with runners in scoring position,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
“That’s what I said coming out of the break, we’ve got to get better with men in scoring position. Obviously we’re in the same boat.”
Tyler Chatwood pitched six strong innings, Nolan Arenado hit a go-ahead single to help the Rockies win the three-game series.
The Cubs can point to the fact they were 0 for 9 with runners on second and third Sunday.
“We had guys on all day and we didn’t get that big hit,” Rizzo said. “From the first inning on we threatened, but hats off to them for making the pitches.”
The Cubs didn’t need runners in scoring position when they finally got to Chatwood in the sixth. Rizzo started the inning by homering into the left-field bleachers for his 14th of the season.
One out later, Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake hit back-to-back singles and both advanced on Chatwood’s errant pickoff throw, leading to Schierholtz scoring on Darwin Barney’s sacrifice fly as the Cubs tied it at 2.
The Rockies came right back in their half with help from Lake.
With two outs, Edwin Jackson walked Carlos Gonzalez and, after Gonzalez stole second, also walked Michael Cuddyer.
Arenado followed with a single to shallow center that Lake fielded on the run. Gonzalez beat his errant throw home, which sailed over the head of catcher Welington Castillo.
The ball bounced off the backstop and rolled into the Rockies dugout, allowing Cuddyer to score from third.
Arenado also came home but the umpires sent him back to second, ruling the ball dead when it rolled into the dugout.
“I knew it was going to be high. It went past Welly’s glove and it hit off the wall,” said Jackson, who was backing up the play.
“It’s just one of those unfortunate plays. Junior Lake has a strong arm, it was a hard-hit ball to center field and I knew he was coming up gunning. I wasn’t able to stop the ball.”
Jackson (6-11) settled down after a rough start to go seven innings, allowing five hits and four runs – three earned.
“First inning I left a couple of balls up and they took advantage,” he said. “That inning right there ended up being a key factor. I was able to come back and make adjustments and get the ball down.”
Jackson, whose three-game winning streak was snapped, struck out five and walked two, both in the sixth.
The Cubs nearly tied it in the ninth. Castro led off with a double and scored on a groundout by Alfonso Soriano. Colby Ransom pinch-hit for Schierholtz and sent Rex Brothers’ 3-2 fastball just foul down the left-field line.
Ransom walked, but Brothers struck out Lake to end the game.
The Cubs are scheduled to have Matt Garza open a four-game series in Arizona on Monday amid speculation he could be traded. Sveum said he isn’t bothered by the trade rumors.
“All I know is he’s pitching tomorrow. If I get a phone call and something changes, that’s the way it is,” Sveum said. “It’s not something that consumes me.”
The players said it hasn’t bothered the team.
“He’s handled it really well,” Rizzo said of Garza. “Outside the noise in the media it’s a joke in here and having fun with it. He’s gone about his business the right way and he’ll be ready to throw strong for us tomorrow.”
NOTES: The Cubs were unbeaten in four consecutive series (2-0-2) before Sunday’s loss. ... Castro had his 10th career four-hit game and first since Sept. 19, 2012, against Cincinnati. ... Rizzo went 4-for-12 in the series and 44 of his 88 hits this season have been for extra bases.