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Nicasio’s Rough Start Sinks Rockies Vs. Cubs

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Nate Schierholtz #19 of the Chicago Cubs is tagged out by Josh Rutledge #14 of the Colorado Rockies on a steal attempt during the first inning on May 13, 2013 at Wrigley Field.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Nate Schierholtz #19 of the Chicago Cubs is tagged out by Josh Rutledge #14 of the Colorado Rockies on a steal attempt during the first inning on May 13, 2013 at Wrigley Field. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (AP) – Juan Nicasio got off to a rough start that the Colorado Rockies couldn’t recover from.

Nicasio allowed five runs in the first two innings and was outpitched by Travis Wood as the Chicago Cubs cruised to a 9-1 victory on Monday night.

“The game got away from us a little bit early,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss. “To Juan’s credit, he ended up giving us six innings, had a rough start though. And the offense struggled again.”

After a shaky first two frames, Nicasio (3-1) managed to last six for Colorado, allowing five runs and eight hits in his first loss of the season. Nicasio, who hasn’t won since beating Arizona on April 26, finished with four scoreless innings.

With two outs in the first, Soriano gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead with his fourth home run. It was Soriano’s 376th of his career, tying him for 69th all-time with former Red Sox and White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.

The home run continued Nicasio’s first-inning problems. Nicasio has a 10.13 ERA in eight first innings and Soriano’s home run was the fourth Nicasio has allowed in the opening frame.

Chicago added to its lead with three in the second on two-out RBI doubles from Wood and Starlin Castro. Wood’s double brought in Welington Castillo, who also doubled, while Castro drove in Wood and David DeJesus.

Nicasio worked around a leadoff Soriano double in the third, but the five earned runs increased his ERA over the first three innings to 6.38.

Weiss didn’t have much of an explanation for Nicasio’s continued early inning issues. With Tyler Chatwood and Drew Pomeranz doing well at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Weiss has options for the rotation if he decides to make a move with Nicasio.

“I’m not going to go into player moves right now,” Weiss said. “But Juan’s been battling. He’s been up and down this year. He’s shown some promise at times. We’ll continue to evaluate.”

However, Nicasio was hardly the only one to blame for the Rockies struggles on Monday night. The offense has been the main culprit during the team’s recent down turn. The Rockies have lost five of six, only scoring 12 runs over those games. They were shut out twice over the weekend by St. Louis before scoring eight runs Sunday.

“When things are tough, it seems like everything is tough,” Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. “We can’t score, we can’t win. We can’t pitch, the same way. It’s a pretty bad combination right there. When you don’t have the offense and they score nine runs, you don’t deserve to win. The last series, we faced some really good pitchers and the same story.”

Wood (4-2) shut down the Rockies’ bats in seven scoreless innings, and he did it Monday against a team that began the day hitting .277 against left-handed pitching.

“That’s as good an outing … to throttle those guys the way they hit left-handed pitching is very, very impressive,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Wood allowed two hits while striking out two for his major league-leading eighth quality start. He’s the first Cubs pitcher since Hippo Vaughn in 1919 to start with eight quality starts. Wood also had two hits and an RBI.

Josh Rutledge hit a home run off Carlos Marmol with one out in the ninth, ruining the Cubs’ bid for their first shutout win since they beat Colorado on Aug. 26. The Cubs have gone 74 games between shutouts, their longest streak since going 75 in a row from May 15 until Aug. 6, 1999, according to STATS.

Notes: Cubs pitcher Matt Garza threw a bullpen session Monday. Garza, who hasn’t pitched this season in the major leagues because of a strained lat suffered during spring training, is expected to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa. After that rehab start, his fourth, the Cubs will determine whether to activate Garza. … Weiss said OF Dexter Fowler was getting the night off. Fowler is 2 for his last 26 and is hitting .262. … Cubs 3B Luis Valbuena was not in the lineup for the second straight game after suffering a jammed right pinkie Saturday in Washington. … Colorado hasn’t won a three-game series at Wrigley Field since Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2006. …. Tuesday’s pitching matchup is the Rockies’ Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90) against the Cubs’ Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02). … Rizzo went 1 for 5.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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