CHICAGO (AP)—Raw and rainy was like a sunny day in the park for Ted Lilly.
Garrett Atkins grounded a clean single between short and third with two outs in the top of the seventh for the first hit off Lilly—the only one the Rockies would get all day as the Cubs took a 4-0 win in their home opener at Wrigley Field.
“I was aware, but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Lilly said. “I was still trying to focus on making quality pitches, not so much how am I going to protect that, you know protect the no-hitter.”
But when a 1-0 slider didn’t move as much as Lilly hoped, Atkins whacked it on the ground through the infield. The crowd gave Lilly an ovation.
“I wasn’t disappointed in the pitch selection, not disappointed in my frame of mind,” Lilly said. “Just the fact the ball didn’t act as I wanted it to, not as sharp as I would have liked. That’s all. … It’s still a groundball, but he put a good swing on it.”
After Seth Smith followed the single with a walk, Chicago manager Lou Piniella removed Lilly. The left-hander left to a rousing ovation from a bundled-up crowd. Attendance was announced at 40,077.
“Lilly really mastered the weather,” Piniella said. “He threw strikes and changed speeds.”
But after 104 pitches, Piniella wasn’t going to leave Lilly in any longer, despite how well he was pitching.
“Early in the season you let a pitcher go much more than he pitched, you’re looking for problems,” Piniella said.
Lilly (2-0) allowed just two walks and the single, while striking out eight. He also walked Chris Iannetta in the third. Relievers Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg completed the one-hit shutout.
The start of the game was delayed one hour, 12 minutes by rain on a wet and blustery day with first-pitch temperature at 36 degrees and the wind blowing in at 10 mph.
“It was real tough to hit, especially with the way the wind was blowing and the rain was blowing,” Atkins said. “It was kind of blowing in your face when you’re trying to hit. He was mixing pitches real well and he had command of all his pitches. … I’m not thinking about his no-hitter. I’m just up there trying to hit it on the barrel, if for no other reason than to get on base and hope your hands don’t hurt when the at-bat is done.”
Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1) was wild, walking six and hitting a batter in 3 2-3 innings. He threw 104 pitches and gave up three runs and four hits.
Lilly lost no-hitters in the seventh inning twice last September en route to a 17-win season. He started slowly a year ago, going 1-4 in the first month, but now he’s already 2-0 one week in. In his first start against Houston, he gave up eight hits and five runs in five innings.
He was in command from the outset Monday, despite the miserable conditions.
“It never got to where it was raining hard,” Lilly said. “It was raining for a while but it was pretty light. I don’t think it was affecting anyone’s performance. It was kind of fun. I enjoy this weather, too.”
Koyie Hill drew a bases-loaded walk to put Chicago ahead 1-0 in the second. The Cubs had received four bases-full passes in one inning Sunday night against the Brewers.
Hill’s single and a walk to Lilly put runners at first and second with no outs in the fourth. After Alfonso Soriano struck out, Ryan Theriot hit a perfect double play grounder to short. But second baseman Jeff Baker’s relay throw went past Todd Helton at first for an error, and Hill scored to make it 2-0.
Fukudome hit an RBI single in the eighth.
The Cubs played without three starters: right fielder Milton Bradley (sore groin), catcher Geovany Soto (sore shoulder) and third baseman Aramis Ramirez (sore back). Piniella said Soto would probably return Wednesday. Bradley, who was hurt Sunday night, had shown some improvement Monday and could be out three to five days, Piniella said.
Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was ejected between the fourth and fifth innings by first base umpire and crew chief Tim McClelland. It started with Hurdle disagreeing with an earlier balk call. … Moments of silence were observed before the game in memory of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas. … Rockies OF Brad Hawpe left the game with a left hamstring cramp in the fifth inning.