Colorado Rockies lose to Cubs, inch toward 100 losses

The Rockies’ 6-3 loss to the Cubs on Saturday was a microcosm of their season-long ineptitude.

Relievers issued costly walks and the lineup hit 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position as the Rockies lost their sixth consecutive game and inched closer to the first 100-loss season in franchise history. With eight games remaining, they are 56-98.

“Walks are devastating in close games,” manager Bud Black told reporters in Chicago.

With the game tied 3-3 in the seventh, reliever Nick Mears issued three consecutive walks, throwing 12 balls on 13 pitches, to be exact. Of course, the walks haunted him.

It could have been a disaster for the Rockies, but Justin Lawrence came in with no outs and limited the Cubs to one run on Cody Bellinger’s sacrifice fly to left. Lawrence struck out Seiya Suzuki for the second out and got Dansby Swanson to fly out to left to end the inning.

Lawrence’s solid work left the Rockies trailing by a single run, and when they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, a victory at Wrigley Field looked quite possible. Except that right-hander Julian Merryweather struck out Brenton Doyle and Charlie Blackmon to end the threat.

“For young Doyle, in his first year, these are growth moments for him,” Black said. “We have talked about it both ways. When guys get hits, and when guys maybe don’t come through, these are experiences that will help them in the future. It’s as frustrating as heck to go through it because we are all competitive and we all want to win.”

Colorado fanned 12 times, with six of them coming in the final three innings.

The Rockies left 11 men on base as their clutch-hitting woes continued to torment them. Over the last four games, the Rockies have hit 3 for 36 with runners in scoring position. That’s a .083 average.

Chicago, in the thick of the National League wild-card race, iced the game in the eighth on Christopher Morel’s leadoff homer off Matt Koch, followed by Nico Hoerner’s RBI single.

Colorado right-hander Chris Flexen, mixing and matching all of his pitches, allowed two runs on five hits over five innings, pitching well enough to set up a victory. The right-hander struck out two and walked two.

“Chris hung in there and he made some pitches,” Black said. “I thought the changeup was effective today for him and there were some good, high fastballs, too. But he wasn’t overly efficient … 92 pitches (57 strikes) in five innings. So they made him work. But five innings and two runs, in this day and age that’s pretty good.”

Chicago jumped on Flexen in the first for a 1-0 lead, combing Hoerner’s one-out single with Ian Happ’s RBI double to right.

Flexen’s wild pitch contributed to another Cubs run in the fifth. No. 9 hitter Miles Mastrobuoni led off with a single, took second on the wild pitch, advanced to third on Mike Tauchman’s flyout to right and scored on Hoerner’s sacrifice fly to right.

Sunday’s pitching matchup

Rockies LHP Ty Blach (3-2, 5.32 ERA) at Cubs LHP Jordan Wicks (3-1, 2.67)

12:20 p.m. Sunday, Wrigley Field

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 630 AM

Blach is looking to rebound from his last start in which he got blown out at San Diego, giving up seven runs on nine hits in just 3 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three. He beat the Cubs at Coors Field earlier this month, allowing three runs on nine hits over five innings. In seven career games (four starts) vs. Chicago, Blach is 5-1 with a 4.62 ERA. Wicks was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s game but he was bumped for veteran Marcus Stroman. Wicks, a rookie, will make his sixth career start. Wicks is trying to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season, 4 1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss at Arizona. Still, he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a game. Against Colorado on Sept. 11 at Coors Field, he pitched six strong innings with one run allowed. He hasn’t given up a home run since his debut on Aug. 26 at Pittsburgh.

Pitching probables

Monday: Off day

Tuesday (doubleheader): Game 1, Dodgers RHP Bobby Miller (10-4, 3.97) at Rockies RHP Chase Anderson (0-6, 5.75), 1:10 p.m.; Game 2: Dodgers TBA at Rockies TBA, 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

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