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Rockies 3, Cubs 1: You can’t win ‘em all

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The Cubs ran into some solid pitching from someone they’d never seen before.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

If I had told you on Tuesday morning that the Cubs would win two of three from a Rockies team that came in as one of the hottest teams in baseball, you’d likely have been pretty satisfied with that, right?

Sure, you’ll say, but after winning the first two of a series...

And you’d be right about that. Theo Epstein said as much in the offseason, that he wanted the Cubs to go for the jugular after taking the first two of a series. Sometimes, though, you just run into a pitcher who shuts you down and that’s what happened in the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Rockies Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Jose Quintana appeared to have given up a leadoff single to Raimel Tapia, but this play was ruled “out” on review [VIDEO].

Quintana then retired eight of the next nine hitters he faced, allowing a two-out single to Rockies starter Peter Lambert, who was making his major-league debut. That hit was in his first big-league at-bat, and he got the ball directly handed to him by Anthony Rizzo [VIDEO].

Nice gesture from a veteran to a rookie.

Before that, the Cubs had a scoring opportunity in the second inning. Javier Baez led off with a single, and took second on an infield out. Then he tried to take third on a grounder to short, which turned out to be a bad idea, as he was thrown out easily. That was too bad, because Albert Almora Jr. followed with a single to right which almost certainly would have scored Baez. Daniel Descalso walked, loading the bases for Quintana.

Sigh. Q is one of the worst-hitting pitchers in the major leagues and the result was predictable, a strikeout.

The Rockies tallied two off Q in the fourth, with a hustle double leading off the inning by Trevor Story followed one out later by an RBI single by David Dahl. A double by Ian Desmond made it 2-0. As it turned out, that was all the Rockies would need.

The Cubs did get on the board against Lambert in the sixth. Kris Bryant doubled with one out and after a groundout by Rizzo, Baez drove him in [VIDEO].

One inning later, the Rox had their two-run lead back. After a double by Desmond, KB lost a ball in the sun which fell for a double by Mark Reynolds. That sent Desmond to third, where he scored Colorado’s third run on a sacrifice fly.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. “Jason Heyward would have caught that!” “Carlos Gonzalez would have caught that!” “KB belongs at third base!”

You know, Joe Maddon likes to play all his guys, and their versatility is a feature, not a bug. That was a tough sky to play Thursday afternoon. Would J-Hey or CarGo would have caught that ball? Maybe, but Bryant is a competent major-league outfielder and these things happen.

The Cubs had a chance to score in the eighth. Kyle Schwarber singled with one out and Bryant walked. For some odd reason, Schwarber stole third after the second out, his first steal of the year. I’m thinking a sign was missed here; that made no sense at all, unless Bryant also took second, which he didn’t. In any case, Baez grounded out to end the inning.

Kyle Ryan entered to throw the ninth, and I figured it was only going to be to face lefty-hitting Dahl, who he got to ground out, and then Brandon Kintzler would face Desmond and Reynolds. But no, Ryan completed the inning, issuing a walk but recording two strikeouts. This is something Maddon does at times, in a game of this nature, trying to see if he’s got anything in a pitcher who otherwise might be sent back to Iowa. Ryan had a nice inning. Whether that helps him stick around remains to be seen.

Our old buddy Wade Davis is on the injured list, so Scott Oberg entered for the save opportunity, and dispatched the Cubs on just eight pitches and that was that.

Hey, it happens. I’ll take meatloaf from all the series the rest of the year, if that can be arranged.

The Brewers salvaged one of their series against the Marlins Thursday afternoon — and thank you Marlins for taking the first two games — so the Cubs and Brewers are in a virtual tie for first place in the N.L. Central. The Cardinals, who come in for a series beginning Friday, also won Thursday, so they trail by 2½ games.

Interesting fact about this game:

And there are some good things to take away from this game, including Quintana’s fine outing:

So let’s take some positives away from this loss, and remember that soon, Craig Kimbrel will be joining the major-league staff to anchor the bullpen.

And about Peter Lambert — remember this: If he stays in the Rockies rotation, the next team he will likely face is... the Cubs, next week in Denver. Hopefully the second time around will be better for our side.

The Cardinals come to Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon. Cole Hamels will start for the Cubs and Miles Mikolas goes for the Cardinals, at 1:20 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago, and on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Cardinals market territories.