DENVER (AP)—Coors Field helped Mark Prior’s hitting a lot more than it effected his pitching.
“He was just filthy,” Colorado’s Todd Helton said. “I’ve never seen him have a bad start. They should name a bridge or a street or something after him.”
The biggest complaint about Coors Field from pitchers is that their breaking balls don’t bite as much in the altitude. Prior (4-1) doesn’t seem to have that problem.
In three career starts at the hitter-friendly park, Prior is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings. On Friday night, he offset a fastball in the mid-90s with a hard-breaking slider that made some of the Rockies’ best hitters look bad at times.
“I throw two (breaking balls). I throw kind of a slow, get-me-over one and I try to throw a hard biting one,” said Prior, who has allowed three runs or fewer in all five starts, pitching past the sixth inning in each outing. “When I get up here, I just try to throw the harder one.”
Corey Patterson was 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs for the Cubs, who had 16 hits after managing just 16 in three games against San Diego. Chicago avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season, winning for the ninth time in 13 games.
Colorado lost its fourth straight and had its five-game home winning streak snapped. The Rockies are 8-2 at Coors Field.
Colorado starter Nelson Cruz (3-1) had his first bad outing of the year, allowing seven runs in 5 2-3 innings—matching his total from his previous four starts.
He became the first Rockies starter to lose at home (5-1) after allowing more than three runs for the first time in five starts.
“I think I made a lot of good pitches, but I made a couple of mistakes and they made me pay for it,” Cruz said.
Prior did the most damage.
He put the Cubs up 3-0 with a leadoff homer in the third that landed in the back of Colorado’s bullpen in right.
In the sixth inning, Cruz walked Damian Miller to get to Prior, but he pulled a three-run double just inside third base to put the Cubs up 7-1.
“I was just trying to hopefully hit a little flare or something,” said Prior, who had as many RBIs as he did all last year. “Luckily, I got a pitch inside and was able to turn on it.”
The last Cubs pitcher with four RBIs in a game was Kevin Tapani, who did it July 20, 1998, against Atlanta.
Prior breezed through Colorado’s lineup until Preston Wilson knocked in a run with an infield single in the fourth. Jay Payton scored after getting hit by a pitch and taking second on a long fly by Todd Helton.
Prior was pulled in the eighth after issuing a leadoff walk to Ronnie Belliard, and that’s when things got interesting.
Helton greeted reliever Mike Remlinger with a two-run homer to left, his sixth of the season, then Larry Walker made it 8-4 with a solo shot to left that just cleared the wall. Walker’s homer was his third.
The Cubs scored three runs in the ninth off Todd Jones to go up 11-4, and they needed almost all of them.
The Rockies scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning, including a two-run double by Helton, before Joe Borowski finished it off by striking out Walker and Wilson.
“When you play here at Coors Field you never feel comfortable,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “You never know which run is going to be the deciding run.”
Patterson opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the second that curled just inside the foul pole in right. Patterson’s fourth of the season drew a loud cheer from the unusually large number of Cubs fans in the crowd.
Hee Seop Choi hit a broken-bat single in the third that put the Cubs up4-0.
Patterson was 3-for-19 in five games before his homer in the second inning. … Prior became the first Cubs’ pitcher with two extra base hits since Ismael Valdes had two doubles May 24, 2000, at Coors Field. … Chicago’s Alex Gonzalez had a long wait to get a walk in the seventh inning after home plate umpire Eric Cooper lost track of the count. All four umpires gathered near home plate for several minutes before Gonzalez was awarded the walk. He ran to first to the mock cheers of the fans. … Helton went 3-for-5 to become the fourthplayer in team history to reach 1,000 hits.