DENVER—Lou Piniella made the right move and Kevin Hart made the right pitch.
But everything else turned out wrong for the Cubs in a 4-2 loss Thursday to the Rockies at Coors Field.
Theriot made no excuses for the error, his second of the year.
"Yeah, you're trying to rush it," he said. "If you don't turn it, they score. You're trying to do it pretty quick. But you have to catch the ball first and see what happens."
Rockies starter Aaron Cook (3-1) limited the Cubs to two runs on four hits over eight innings, outdueling Cubs starter Jason Marquis, who also turned in a strong outing.
Hart, who replaced Marquis in the eighth because Piniella wanted to rest set-up men Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry, gave up a leadoff double to Matt Holliday to start the inning. After Holliday advanced on a groundout, Piniella ordered Hart to walk Brad Hawpe intentionally to set up a double play.
It looked like perfect strategy when Hart induced Troy Tulowitzki to ground to second on a check swing. But Theriot muffed Ronny Cedeno's flip to second, allowing Holliday to score the go-ahead run and leaving runners on first and second.
"He got me a ground ball," Piniella said of Hart. "I don't know whether it would've been a double play or not. I think Theriot tried to really hurry the play. Tulowitzki can get down the line fairly good. But I just can't use my short people every [game]."
Hart, the only reliever who hadn't pitched in Wednesday night's 10-inning victory, was given an opportunity to show what he can do in a key late-inning situation. He got Tulowitzki to hit the pitch he wanted.
"Absolutely," Hart said. "The result was what we were trying to do. It doesn't always work out that way. I have no idea what happened. I didn't look at it."
Ryan Spilborghs' two-out RBI single gave the Rockies an important insurance run and Brian Fuentes came on in the ninth to close it out.
The Rockies had lost when leading in the eighth inning or later in each of their last four games, a dubious achievement matched by only one other team—the 1978 Giants—over the previous 100 years. But Fuentes pitched a perfect inning, striking out Kosuke Fukudome for the final out and saving the Rockies from making history.
The Cubs had a chance to break the game open in the eighth when it looked like they were going to continue the late-inning madness they have grown to expect.
Geovany Soto started the rally with a single to left off Cook, and Ronny Cedeno replaced him as a pinch-runner. Felix Pie's single and a walk to pinch-hitter Daryle Ward loaded the bases with no outs. Mike Fontenot beat out a potential double-play grounder to tie the game 2-2, but the Rockies escaped further damage when Theriot lined out to first baseman Todd Helton, who easily doubled Fontenot off first to end the inning.
"We had chances there in the eighth inning—bases loaded, no outs," Piniella said. "We come out of it with one run. But we're on to Washington."