Oliver hopes they’ll be as generous this time around as he faces Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs in the middle game of a weekend series at Wrigley Field.
Oliver gave up three earned runs and five hits over seven innings in a 6-3 win six days ago, becoming the last Rockies starter to earn a victory. The win was the first since May 6, 2002 for Oliver, who spent half of last season pitching in the minors.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that if you keep going out there and battling, eventually it will change for you,” said Oliver, who survived a shaky two-run fourth inning in which he walked in a run.
Oliver had been a victim of bad luck coming in to Sunday’s game. In two outings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he had given up a total of just four runs—three earned—but did not receive a decision in either.
“I’ve had times where I gave up six or seven runs and won the game, and other times you go out and give up only two or three and lose or get a no-decision,” Oliver said. “It’s just a game of streaks, really.”
In five career starts against the Cubs, Oliver is 3-0 with a strong 3.55 ERA.
Zambrano gave up four earned runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings Sunday, allowing more than two earned runs for the first time in five starts.
“I didn’t pitch badly, but gave up some walks and then some hits,” said Zambrano, who gave up three runs on two walks and two doubles in the fourth.
On Friday, the Cubs won for the third time in their last four, beating the Rockies 7-4.
STANDINGS (through May 1): Rockies - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, NL West. Cubs - 1st place, NL Central.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Oliver (1-2, 5.81 ERA). Oliver has lasted more than five innings just twice this season and has allowed fewer than eight hits just twice. Oliver, one of 17 non-roster invitees in Rockies history to make the opening day roster, was scheduled to work in relief this season but was inserted into the rotation following injuries to starters Denny Neagle and Denny Stark.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Zambrano (3-2, 2.61 ERA). Zambrano has won two of his last three starts. In two career starts against the Rockies, he is 0-2 with a 3.29 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rockies - Todd Helton, .330 avg., 6 HRs, 29 RBIs and 28 runs; Preston Wilson, 5 SBs. Cubs - Sammy Sosa, .323 avg., 6 HRs and 23 RBIs; Sosa and Alex S. Gonzalez, 24 runs; Corey Patterson, 3 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - Friday’s game kicked off a nine-game, 10-day road trip for the Rockies, their longest of the season. The Rockies are 438-354 all-time at home and 317-477 on the road. … Colorado pitchers on Friday didn’t allow a homer for the first time in eight games. … RF Larry Walker needs just three double to match Dante Bichette’s franchise record of 270. He is only three games shy of Bichette’s record of 1,018 played with the Rockies. Cubs - RF Sosa has not homered since April 20—a span of nine games. … SS Gonzalez is 8-for-24 (.333) all-time against Oliver—the best mark among Cubs with more than three at-bats against the left-hander. … Through their afternoon game on Friday, the Cubs were tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for second in the National League with 162 runs scored. They trailed the first-place Rockies by 17 runs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 4-10 on the road; Cubs - 9-5 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - OF Chris Richard (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Stark (side), 60-day DL; INF Pablo Ozuna (knee), 60-day DL; INF Juan Uribe (foot), 60-day DL. Cubs - RHP Antonio Alfonseca (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL.