The Cubs had the tying run on third base with one out in the ninth inning, and 39,546 fans were in full throttle, give-us-something-to-really-cheer-about mode.
But Todd Walker and Corey Patterson each struck out to preserve Colorado's 4-3 victory Saturday, sending home the Wrigley Field faithful understandably exhausted, exasperated and edgy.
"We did have some chances to break the game open," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, whose team stranded eight runners against Colorado starter Jason Jennings (2-4) and three relievers.
Cubs starter Greg Maddux (2-3) pitched seven strong innings, yielding four runs on seven hits. He walked none and struck out five, but allowed all four runs after two were out.
Maddux's most egregious mistake was a poorly placed cutter that Rockies starting pitcher Jason Jennings ripped over the right-field wall for a two-run homer to tie the game 3-3 in the fifth.
"I threw it down the middle, and he hit it," Maddux said succinctly. "I felt good, felt like I threw OK. I gave up four runs made a couple of mistakes. I could have pitched better with two outs, I guess."
The Cubs threatened in the ninth when pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth drew a leadoff walk off reliever Shawn Chacon. Pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin bounced into a fielder's choice groundout. Chacon tried to keep Goodwin close, but threw wildly to first. As the ball rattled around in the right-field bullpen, Goodwin scooted all the way to third. Walker, who was 0-2 before the errant throw, drew a ball before fanning. That left it up to Patterson, who struck out swinging.
The Rockies touched Maddux for a run in the first inning after Royce Clayton doubled, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Vinny Castilla's single up the middle.
The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the first on back-to-back homers by Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou onto Waveland Avenue. Sosa's homer was his eighth of the year and the 547th of his career, leaving him just one shy of Mike Schmidt for ninth place on the all-time home run list.
Alou followed Sosa's blast with his eighth homer of the season.
Walker hopped on the first pitch from Jennings in the third inning and sent it over the right-field wall onto Sheffield Avenue to give the Cubs a 3-1 advantage.
Maddux retired 12 straight batters before Brad Hawpe delivered a two-out single in the fifth. Then Jennings tied the game 3-3 with his two-run homer on an 0-1 count. It was the second career homer for the 2002 NL Rookie of the Year.
"I know he can hit," Maddux said. "It wasn't a surprise, trust me there are a couple of pitchers out there who can flat out rake."
Another two-out base hit gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning. Clayton reached on an infield single down the first-base line to start the inning. He stole second even though Maddux pitched out to catcher Paul Bako. With two outs and two strikes, Jeromy Burnitz lined a single to right that scored Clayton.
Jennings, who entered Saturday's game with a 10.57 earned-run average, settled down after a shaky first three innings and retired seven in a row at one stretch.
"He probably made a few adjustments between innings," Patterson said. "We did too. We hit the ball down. So it was really not a whole lot more that you could do."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun