Colorado's young team is currently outplaying Chicago's.
In their first meeting of the season, the Rockies look to win a sixth straight game for the first time in 16 months when they open a three-game series Friday against the slumping Cubs, who are returning home from a 1-6 road trip.
Jim Tracy 's 75-pitch limit for his starters suddenly seems to be working for Colorado (50-73), which matched its longest winning streak of the season with Thursday's 1-0 victory over the New York Mets .
The Rockies, who haven't won six straight since reeling off seven from April 9-15, 2011, have yielded seven total runs during their winning streak after allowing an average of 6.4 in their previous eight."I think we're throwing the ball really well right now as a staff," said starter Tyler Chatwood , who was pulled after throwing 65 pitches in three innings Thursday.
The left-hander, who has never faced Chicago, gave up two runs, three hits and a career-high tying four walks while racking up 76 pitches in Colorado's 3-2 win over Miami on Sunday.
The Rockies are winning despite regulars Dexter Fowler (right ankle), Eric Young Jr. (left ribcage strain), Josh Rutledge (left quad tightness) and Michael Cuddyer (right oblique strain) all getting injured since Sunday. Young and Cuddyer have landed on the disabled list, while Fowler is day-to-day and Rutledge has come off the bench in the last three games.
A former Cub has been the one leading Colorado during its recent surge, as Tyler Colvin is batting .435 with a homer, four RBIs and five runs in the last six games.
Chicago (47-76) is giving regular time to top prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters along with rookie first baseman Anthony Rizzo , and it hasn't led to many wins. The Cubs dropped to 4-18 since July 31 with Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Milwaukee.
Rizzo has cooled off after a hot start, batting .200 with two RBIs in his last eight games, while Jackson is hitting .164 with a homer and 29 strikeouts in 16 contests and Vitters is batting .119 with a home run in 13."We've got to start grinding at-bats and learn how to foul balls off, and get to another count, get to another pitch," manager Dale Sveum said.
Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.17), who is in his first season as a starter, will make his first career start against the Rockies after posting a 2.00 ERA in nine innings of relief in the series.
Samardzija gave up six hits and four runs - all on three homers - in five innings of Saturday's 5-3 loss at Cincinnati.
Returning to Wrigley Field could help him bounce back. In three home starts since the All-Star break, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 18 innings, with the Cubs winning each.
|August 22, 2012||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Left game - right ankle injury|
|August 20, 2012||Eric Young||15-Day DL||Left intercostal strain|
|August 19, 2012||Michael Cuddyer||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|August 19, 2012||Josh Rutledge||Day-to-Day||Left game - left quad tightness|
|August 14, 2012||Drew Pomeranz||Day-to-Day||Chest soreness|
|August 06, 2012||Todd Helton||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|July 28, 2012||Matt Garza||60-Day DL||Stress reaction, right elbow|
|July 21, 2012||Matt Garza||Day-to-Day||Left game - right triceps cramp|
|June 16, 2012||Ryan Dempster||15-Day DL||Right lat tightness|
|June 13, 2012||Ian Stewart||60-Day DL||Left wrist surgery|
|June 02, 2012||Blake Parker||60-Day DL||Stress reaction in right elbow|
|May 19, 2012||Welington Castillo||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Jeff Samardzija keeps getting more experience in his first season as a starting pitcher, and Friday was a positive step.
The Cubs right-hander rebounded after allowing three runs in the first three innings in Chicago's 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies .
Joe Mather took advantage of a rare start with a go-ahead single during a three-run rally in the eighth inning and the Cubs ended a four-game losing streak.
The Rockies had matched a season best with a five-game winning streak.
"There have been times I had good stuff and it's gone smoothly and then I come out early like that and scuffle and really not have fastball command or a slider all game," Samardzija said.
"To get through the end of seven innings felt really good, just felt like a starting pitcher, consciously understanding what's there and not there," he said.
Samardzija gave up two earned runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out seven.
Chicago trailed 3-2 going into the eighth before Brett Jackson led off with his second homer of the season.
Pinch hitter Luis Valbuena doubled with one out and Mather, batting in the leadoff spot usually occupied by David DeJesus , followed with an RBI single against reliever Matt Belisle (3-5).
Mather later scored on reliever Matt Reynolds ' throwing error to first on Anthony Rizzo 's grounder.
James Russell (6-1) got two outs for the win and Carlos Marmol closed for his 16th save.
The Rockies scored in the first on an error by shortstop Starlin Castro , a single by Jordan Pacheco and a wild pitch.
Chris Nelson made it 2-0 in the second with his sixth homer. Carlos Gonzalez led off the third with his 21st homer and first since July 23.
"He was able to settle down," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Samardzija. "He's grown a lot, especially in the last four, five, six starts. You start seeing a guy who's learning what to do in situations, how to get quicker outs."
The Cubs were hitless until Alfonso Soriano led off the fifth with his 23rd home run, connecting against Drew Pomeranz . Welington Castillo homered later in the inning to cut the Rockies' lead to 3-2.
Pomeranz left after the fifth. The home runs were the only hits he allowed.
"I felt great today," he said. "Velocity was good, location was good. I think Castillo hit that ball pretty good, but I didn't think Soriano's ball was going out."
The Cubs are 5-17 in August.
"You leave them hanging around like that and they have a chance," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We weren't able to do much offensively. We hit two balls out of the ballpark with nobody on. That's pretty much what we did."
NOTES: Sveum opted for Mather to lead off against LHP Pomeranz, giving DeJesus a day off. "We'll keep everybody else in their slot and see what happens," he said. "We haven't seen many lefties in a while, so we'll give Joe a few at-bats." ... Pomeranz was the first lefty starter the Cubs faced since Aug. 8 in a 2-0 loss to San Diego's Clayton Richard ... Colorado 3B coach Rich Dauer will be inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on Saturday. He played for the 1983 World Series champion Orioles ... Rockies OF Dexter Fowler (ankle) is off crutches and will likely not be in the lineup during the Cubs series. He could possibly pinch hit Sunday, Tracy said. ... Colorado INF Josh Rutledge (quadriceps) is doing better, but is heavily taped and progressing slowly and won't be pushed, Tracy said.