CHICAGO (AP)—This is how the Cubs drew it up in spring training—before the mistake-filled games, the injuries and all the losing.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the first, doubled and scored in the fifth and homered again to lead off the seventh. It was his 24th career multihomer gamer. Ramirez has finally started to heat up after hitting just two homers in the season’s first two months.
“I’m more comfortable,” Ramirez said. “I’m driving the ball more, driving in some runs. It paid off, the kind of work I was doing.”
Pena homered leading off the fourth and added a two-run shot in the fifth for his 20th career multihomer game. Pena and Ramirez each drove in three runs.
“I keep on saying, if you ask (hitting coach) Rudy Jaramillo, he’ll tell you every day in the morning we’re working in the cage and working on trying to get that consistent swing and I can’t tell you that I feel outstanding at the plate,” Pena said. “I’m glad I’m able to contribute, but I know there that there’s still work to do.”
“Attacking the zone, keeping my team in the ballgame, that’s what I’m supposed to do,” Garza said. “I didn’t want to come out, but (Cubs manager Mike Quade) made the call. It was the right move, I was already at 110 pitches. As a starter, you want to go out and finish what you start.”
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin(notes) (8-5) struggled with his command and lost for the first time in four decisions, allowing season highs with six runs, nine hits, three homers and seven extra-base hits. He departed after throwing 107 pitches in five innings.
“Unfortunately, Jhoulys didn’t have it today and that happens once in a while,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “He couldn’t get the ball down today and he paid for it.”
“My first at-bat, it was a fastball away and I tried to hit the ball away and it just kept going,” Gonzalez said. “The second was a mistake on a changeup down and in.”
Gonzalez has 12 homers, including a pair of two-homer games this season.
Chacin hadn’t allowed more than one run in any of his four June starts, but allowed two runs in the first Monday. Starlin Castro(notes) tripled off the ivy in center field with two outs, then Ramirez homered to left-center on a 1-2 pitch.
“Today my slider wasn’t good,” Chacin said. “I didn’t make my pitches today and I struggled all over the place.”
The triple gave Castro a career-best 11-game hitting streak. Castro, who entered the day second in the NL with 104 hits, is batting .384 over his last 21 games.
After the Cubs squandered scoring chances in the second and third, Pena hammered a 3-1 pitch from Chacin into the batter’s eye in dead-center to lead off the fourth.
Later in the fourth, the Cubs loaded the bases on Geovany Soto’s(notes) two-out double and back-to-back walks to Garza and Kosuke Fukudome(notes). With Tony Campana(notes) at the plate, Chacin threw a pitch to the screen, allowing Soto to score and put the Cubs ahead 4-1.
Chicago broke the game open in the fifth. Ramirez doubled up the right-field line with one out. Pena then homered for the second time, an opposite-field shot that also came on a 3-1 count. That gave Pena 16 homers, all since May 3, the most in the NL over that span.
“As hitters we like to hit the ball the other way with power, that’s a good sign, so I was able to do so today and that’s always a good sign for me if I’m driving the ball the other way,” Pena said. “That’s important as a hitter and a sign of good things to come.”
Not to be outdone, Ramirez launched a 1-0 pitch off reliever Clayton Mortensen(notes) onto the roof of the batting eye in center leading off the seventh, putting Chicago up 7-2. It was his eighth homer of the season.
“The formula is exactly how you draw it up, minus a few mistakes,” Quade said. “We were able to outhit them.”
The Rockies started fast against Garza when Gonzalez led off the game with a homer to opposite field. It was Gonzalez’s third career leadoff homer.
Garza cruised into the eighth, when he allowed Gonzalez’s second homer of the day with one out, trimming the Cubs’ lead to 7-3.
“(Home runs and pitching is) a pretty good combination,” Quade said.
The Cubs have had a disappointing season and even after Monday’s win, Chicago remains 14 games under .500. As the team gets healthier, Ramirez says they have to forget about the standings.
“We have to,” Ramirez said. “You have to show and play every day. Don’t think about tomorrow, don’t think about yesterday. Just concentrate on that game and see what happens.”
Notes: Monday’s game was a makeup of an April 27 rainout. … The Rockies, who finished a weekend series in New York against the Yankees on Sunday, return to Denver to face the White Sox in an interleague series beginning Tuesday. The Cubs play a day-night doubleheader to open a four-game series at Wrigley against the Giants on Tuesday. … Cubs 2B Darwin Barney(notes) homered for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Barney is on a rehab assignment as part of his recovery from the left knee sprain that landed him on the disabled list on June 14. Quade hopes to have Barney back in the lineup in time for Wednesday game against San Francisco. … Quade also said that OF Marlon Byrd(notes) (fractured orbital bone) and reliever Kerry Wood(notes) (blister on right index finger) are improving and could be back with the club in a week or so. Byrd has been out since May 21, when he was hit in the face by a pitch by Boston’s Alfredo Aceves(notes).