Helton homers twice, Rockies beat Cubs 4-3

The Cubs looked as if they were headed for a big offensive game. Then Jorge De La Rosa settled in.

After scoring twice in the first inning, Chicago was shut down by De La Rosa in a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

"You just have to believe that a good approach at the plate is going to bring you back to what you do well," Cubs' manager Mike Quade said.

De La Rosa picked up his fourth victory in five starts to start the season.

After falling behind in the first inning, the Cubs captured the lead in the bottom half. After Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney led off the inning with singles, Jeff Baker singled home a run with two outs to tie the game.

Geovany Soto then hit a grounder to the left side that went under the glove of Rockies' shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, allowing Barney to score.

"De La Rosa didn't look very sharp in the first," Quade said. "He settled down and pitched pretty well. He regrouped pretty darn well and settled down and pitched good."

De La Rosa pitched seven strong innings, striking out nine while allowing two runs, one earned. He did not walk a batter.

"He pitched good. He's got a very good changeup and a good fastball," Cubs' outfielder Alfonso Soriano said. "We have to give a lot of credit. Especially a day like today."

Barney and Jeff Baker each had two hits, but the Cubs did not record an extra-base hit against De La Rosa (4-0) and two relievers until the ninth inning, when Soriano hit his seventh homer of the year to make it 4-3.

"We gotta be patient. It's not easy to play here, especially in April," Soriano said of his team's lack of power hitting. "But that's not the key right now. We gotta win some games and score some runs."

James Russell started for the Cubs and lasted only four innings. He gave up four runs on five hits, but allowed three solo home runs, two to Todd Helton.

"I feel great. My arm has been bouncing back awesome," Russell said. "They never say a set pitch count, but I feel great. I have a lot of energy."

Helton's homer to right field in the first inning landed only a few rows behind the ivy. In the fifth, though, he hit a long no-doubter out to center.

"That ball was hit as well as we've seen here," Rockies' manager Jim Tracy said. "He was out front on the first one that he hit, but obviously strong enough to pull the ball the way he did and get enough of it to get it out."

At 16-7, the Rockies have the best 23-game start in team history and a chance to sweep the series from the Cubs on Wednesday.

"We were in this situation last year and I really hope that our interest level walking into this clubhouse tomorrow is that we're not satisfied that we've won the series," Tracy said. "We're interested in sweeping the series because we have an opportunity to do so."

NOTES: One night after his first career five-hit game, Chicago's Kosuke Fukudome was out of the starting lineup with the Cubs facing LHP De La Rosa. Quade said Fukudome would be seeing plenty of action in the days ahead with the Cubs facing a string of right-handed starters at Arizona and Los Angeles. Fukudome grounded out twice after entering as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, snapping his hitting streak at eight games. ... Tracy gave OF Carlos Gonzalez the night off on Tuesday to "let him clear his head." Gonzalez, who is hitting .217 and is just 1 of 20 against left-handers this season, finished third in the NL MVP voting last season. Gonzalez entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth and grounded out in the ninth. ... Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta stole his second base in 363 career games in the fourth inning.