CHICAGO – It certainly wasn't Esmil Rogers' pitching that was the key to the Colorado Rockies' 5-3 victory over the Cubs on a blustery and chilly Monday night.
It was Rogers' bat that helped decide the game.
Rogers led off the fifth with the score tied at 3, and put down a near-perfect bunt that Cubs third baseman Jeff Baker charged in on and fielded, but his throw to first was too late to get the Rockies pitcher.
"He laid down a tremendous bunt," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said about Rogers, a converted infielder.
"After the first strike, I was looking toward Baker at third and he moved back a little bit," Rogers said. "I said to make sure to put it down third and don't go foul."
He helped himself after struggling on the mound. On a 43-degree night, Rogers (3-1) gave up eight hits, four walks and three earned runs in 5 1-3 innings after entering with a 6.75 ERA.
After Rogers' bunt single, Dexter Fowler walked and Jonathan Herrera put down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown into the stands by Cubs pitcher Matt Garza (0-3) allowing Rogers to score. Carlos Gonzalez then grounded out to second to score another run.
Huston Street came on in the ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season. The Colorado bullpen allowed the Cubs three hits over the final 3 2-3 innings, with Matt Lindstrom and Rafael Betancourt preceding Street.
"Our bullpen once again stepped up big time," Tracy said.
The first-place Rockies are now 15-7 with a four-game lead over Los Angeles, which lost to Florida.
It was a miserable night for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, and not just because of the weather. He committed three errors — all in the second inning — in the loss.
"Anytime you make three errors in a game, it's definitely a tough day," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "I feel for him over there. The conditions were bad. The field isn't the easiest on shortstops."
Garza's errant throw to first on a bunt was the Cubs' fourth error of the night and opened the door to two more runs.
Only one of the five runs scored against Garza were earned. He gave up three hits and a walk in six innings.
Kosuke Fukudome set a career high with five hits, all singles and Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer in the first inning.
It all came undone for the Cubs shortly after.
Tulowitzki hit a grounder to Castro leading off the second, reaching base when he bobbled the ball.
With Smith on second and Lopez on first, Chris Iannetta hit a grounder that Castro fielded cleanly. His throw, though, sailed past Barney at second base and into the Cubs' bullpen along the right-field line.
Smith and Lopez came all the way home to tie it at 3. When Castro finally fielded a grounder and threw out Rogers at first, he got a sarcastic cheer. Fowler struck out to end the inning.
One more mistake let the Rockies take the lead.
In the fifth inning, with men on first and second, Herrera laid down a bunt. Garza's throw to Barney at first was off, and Rogers scored. Fowler reached third and scored later on Carlos Gonzalez's groundout.
Castro was the first Cubs player to have three errors in an inning since Jaime Navarro did it on Aug. 18, 1996 against Houston. The major league record for errors in an inning by a shortstop is four. It's happened three times, though not since Lennie Merullo did it Sept. 13, 1942. He later played on the last Cubs team to make the World Series, in 1945.
NOTES: According to STATS, LLC, the last player to make three errors in an inning was 3B Andy Marte of Cleveland on June 10 last year. The last SS to do it was Aaron Miles of St. Louis, on July 7, 2007. ... Cubs manager Mike Quade gave third baseman Aramis Ramirez the night off, starting Baker in his place. ... Quade said that injured starting pitchers Randy Wells (forearm strain) and Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff strain) were both progressing well, though no timetable has been established for their return to the Cubs' rotation. Both pitchers, who were placed on the disabled list on April 7, are slated to be re-examined on Wednesday. ... Fowler's seventh-inning triple gave him 25 in his career, moving him past Ellis Burks for fifth on Colorado's career list.