Rockies 4, Cubs 3
CHICAGO (AP)—Jason Jennings is no slouch with the bat. And now he has one of the biggest hits of his career.
“He left it out over the plate and I was able to take advantage of it,” said Jennings, who entered this season with a career average of .267.
A standout hitter and pitcher at Baylor, Jennings knows any offense he adds can be a plus, as it was Saturday when he ended a personal three-game losing streak from the mound
“I always work on my hitting,” he said. “I just need to get up there and see it and swing hard. That’s what I did all through high school and college coming up, so why change? See it and hit it.”
Maddux (2-3) had retired 12 straight and was coasting with a 3-1 lead in the fifth before he gave up a two-out single to Brad Hawpe. Jennings followed by driving an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right for his second career homer. He was 1-for-12 this season before the homer.
“He can hit, I knew that two years ago when he started. I mean that wasn’t a surprise,” Maddux said.
“Trust me. I knew that for a while. It’s not a secret. … There are a couple of pitchers out there that can flat-out rake and you know about them.”
Maddux, who allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings, still needs nine wins to reach 300 for his career. He’s given up 10 homers so far this season.
“With the exception of the first game here I pitched, I’m kinda happy with how I’ve thrown the ball,” Maddux said.
“The results stink, but I feel OK with how I’m throwing it.”
But Jennings (2-4) settled down and yielded just five hits in six innings. He came out to warm up in the seventh before he was replaced by Brian Fuentes. Shawn Chacon pitched the ninth and held on for his eighth save in nine chances.
“He didn’t let the home runs affect him,” Colorado manager Cliff Hurdle said of Jennings. “He pitched through some traffic early on.”
Hurdle, like Maddux, is not surprised by Jennings’ prowess with the bat. Jennings batted .382 with 17 homers in his final year of college when he was the Golden Spikes winner as the national player of the year in 1999.
“We talked about it a couple of weeks ago, how much we can have an edge with him the lineup,” Hurdle added. “He took care of the game from a pitching standpoint and gave us a chance to win and then he hits the homer.”
The Cubs threatened in the ninth. Todd Hollandsworth walked to lead off, but was erased when pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin grounded into a fielder’s choice. On a pickoff attempt, Goodwin went all the way to third base on Chacon’s throwing error. But Chacon struck out Walker and Corey Patterson to end it.
Clayton followed with a double and scored one out later on Vinny Castilla’s RBI single to center.
Sosa also struck out three times, giving him 2,002 for his career and moving him into second place all-time behind Reggie Jackson (2,597). Andres Galarraga fanned 2,000 times. … Jennings also homered in his major league debut on Aug. 23, 2001. On that day, he became the first player in major league history to throw a complete-game shutout and hit a homer in his big league debut. … Sosa’s homer was the 547th of his career, putting him one behind Mike Schmidt for ninth on the all-time list. … It marked the fifth time in Jennings’ career he’d surrendered three homers in a game. He’s given up 11 thisseason. … The Cubs have hit back-to-back homers five times this season.