After a forgettable second half last season and a disappointing start to 2012, Jhoulys Chacin - following more than three months on the shelf - returned to the mound in impressive fashion earlier this week.
Chris Volstad , meanwhile, hasn't been able to take many positives away from his recent efforts on the hill.
While Chacin (1-3, 6.16 ERA) appeared headed for stardom after going 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA in his first 15 starts of 2011, he finished the year with an 11-14 record. The right-hander saw his woes carry into this season, going 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA over five starts through May 1 before landing on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
If Tuesday's display is any indication, though, Chacin may have found his form. He allowed one run and four hits over six innings, walking none in a 6-2 road win over the New York Mets .
"It was so good to see him back out there, but (especially) to have him back out there tonight commanding his fastball in the manner in which he did tonight," manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies' official website. "It's been quite a while since we've seen Jhoulys Chacin go out and command his fastball in the manner in which he did."
Chacin threw his only career shutout April 15, 2011, in a 5-0 home victory over the Cubs (48-77), although he's been knocked around in two starts at Wrigley, losing both while compiling a 7.59 ERA.
Unlike Chacin, Volstad (0-9, 6.88) hasn't shown any signs of turning things around. The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings last Sunday, getting a no-decision in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati.
Volstad is 0-14 with a 5.54 ERA over his 24-start winless stretch dating to July 17, 2011, while with the Marlins.
"I'm done with that (thinking about the streak)," he said. "If you win five in a row are you going to worry about winning your next game? If you lose five in a row are you going to worry about losing the next one or are going to go out and try to win every time you go out there? That's all I'm doing."
Volstad will do his best to slow down suddenly hot Colorado (51-74), which improved to 6-1 over its last seven games with Saturday's 4-3 victory. Andrew Brown hit his first major league homer while fellow rookie Josh Rutledge connected on a pinch-hit, two-run shot.
"It's good for our kids, as young as we are," Tracy said. "To be involved in games like this, and the realization we are playing in this type of game, there is no room for error."
While Colorado's bats came up big Saturday, its much-maligned pitching staff has led the way during the recent run. Rockies pitchers have compiled a 1.74 ERA over the last seven games, including a 1.16 mark from the bullpen.
Though Chicago is batting .211 during a 5-19 stretch, Colorado will need to be wary of rookie Brett Jackson . The promising center fielder hit a two-run homer Saturday - his second long ball in as many days.
"He had some good swings," manager Dale Sveum said. "That should be helping him out confidence-wise."
|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) -- Chris Volstad had to wait through a couple of rain delays while he worked on his first victory in more than a year, and it seemed like an eternity to the tall right-hander as he moved closer to the end of a 24-start winless streak.
"It's only fitting that the day took pretty long," a relieved Volstad said Sunday after pitching the Chicago Cubs to a 5-0 win over the Colorado Rockies .
The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 23 minutes by rain, and there was another weather interruption of 30 minutes after the eighth inning before the game was called. Then the 6-foot-8 Volstad really did get a shower - a celebratory one from his teammates with a clubhouse beverage.
"The tarp being pulled in the ninth inning, I was, `Come on, just get this over with,"' Volstad said. "I got a pretty big welcome, reception whatever you want to call it when they called the game. Everyone was pretty happy. I was pretty happy, as well. ... There is a little sense of relief to get it over with."
Volstad allowed just three hits over 6 2-3 innings in his first win since he helped the Marlins to a 5-4 victory over Houston on July 10, 2011. He was traded to the Cubs over the winter for Carlos Zambrano .
He said he hadn't been dwelling on the streak.
"Maybe a little bit of bad luck for me over the last year and a month or whatever it was. That's baseball. You got to keep going," Volstad said.
"Sometimes you throw well and don't get that win or you get that loss and sometimes you don't and do get a win. Just the way it goes. I think that's why the streak, whatever you want to call it, to me wasn't a huge issue."
The major league record for consecutive winless starts is 28, shared by Jo-Jo Reyes, Matt Keough and Cliff Curtis .
Volstad (1-9) was taken out to an ovation in the seventh after former Cub Tyler Colvin doubled with two outs and Chris Nelson walked. Manny Corpas then retired Jonathan Herrera on a fielder's choice grounder to end the threat.
Volstad, who made 12 starts in the minors this season and was recalled Aug. 1, struck out three and walked three in a 101-pitch effort. Shawn Camp pitched the eighth for his second save in five chances, completing a four-hitter.
"Since he's been back, he hasn't been that bad. He's had some good outings," Chicago manager Dave Sveum said of Volstad. "He's pitched much better with a lot more conviction."
Starlin Castro scored three times and Darwin Barney had two RBIs as the Cubs took two of three from the Rockies.
Colorado right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (1-4), making just his second start since returning from the disabled list, gave up a run and five hits in five innings.
"It was bad weather, rainy and very humid. When I was pitching all the sweat came to my hand and it was really tough to grab the ball, but I still didn't make the pitch when I needed," Chacin said. "I couldn't get a grip on my sinker. I was just really using my fastball and my slider because I couldn't throw my changeup for a strike."
But the Rockies just couldn't muster anything offensively.
"We didn't hit today," manager Jim Tracy said. "You certainly would have liked to have those baserunners and force Chris to pitch out of the stretch a little more often than he did."
Volstad, who was 0-14 during the winless streak, has received little run support this season. During his previous 13 starts, the Cubs had scored one or fewer runs eight times and he hadn't received more than three runs in any of those outings.
This time they gave him an early lead and he went from there.
"The biggest thing was me giving up zeroes. That's always nice," Volstad said. "The defense backed me today and they did a great job at the plate."
Castro doubled in the second, went to third on a fly ball and scored when Barney beat out a potential double-play grounder.
Castro walked in the sixth, moved up on two grounders and scored on Barney's flare single to right-center.
The Cubs then tacked on three more runs in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Joe Mather had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Brett Jackson raced home on Will Harris ' wild pitch and David DeJesus tacked on an RBI single.
NOTES: Sveum said it was the right decision to call the game after eight because the field had become unplayable. "The dirt was beyond kitty litter repair as I call it," he said. ... Barney entered in a 3-for-31 slump over his previous 10 games. ... Announced attendance was 32,346, many of whom had departed by the time the game had started. ... Colorado heads home to play the new-look Dodgers with Josh Beckett making his first start for L. A. since the trade from Boston and Jeff Francis pitching for the Rockies on Monday night. The Cubs stay at Wrigley to face Milwaukee with Chicago's Justin Germano going against Marco Estrada .