DENVER -- The Rockies rallied to win Sunday behind a four-run eighth inning, but as far as Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster sees it, they won the game in the first against him.
Dempster gave up four runs in a 29-pitch first and was clearly frustrated after the Cubs' 9-5 loss.
"I'm sick and tired of this," Dempster said. "I'm better than that. I've got to do a better job of giving the team a chance to win than that. I've got to do a better job of pitching than that."
Asked if he could pinpoint what was happening, Dempster snapped, "No."
"I've got to do a better job of making pitches and getting people out," he said. "It's getting really old. I know they're professional hitters on the other side and you have to tip your cap to them sometimes, but when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate too much, you don't tip your cap to anybody. You look in the mirror and do a better job."
Dempster now has given up at least four runs in each of his starts, and in each of the games, there's been one big inning by the opponent.
"I pride myself in giving us a chance to win, and I've pitched four ballgames and I've given us a chance to win one, at least a good chance to win one," he said. "I'm a better pitcher than that."
The Cubs hope so. That's why manager Mike Quade named Dempster his Opening Day starter.
"He's still feeling his way," Quade said. "It's not the Demp we're accustomed to seeing. His effort after the first inning was excellent. It seems like there's one inning. He isn't sharp overall, but then there's an inning, and it was the first today.
"I'd be a lot more concerned if it was a young kid."
Dempster should've felt right at home because of a blustery west wind that gusted up to 35 mph and made Coors Field feel like a breezy day at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Rockies erased that. Dempster struck out Dexter Fowler to start the game but walked Jonathan Herrera, who scored on Carlos Gonzalez's double. One out later, Todd Helton hit an RBI single.
Dempster then served up Seth Smith's homer on a 2-1 pitch to give the Rockies a 4-1 lead. It was the fifth home run off Dempster, which leads the National League. He threw first-pitch strikes to two of the seven batters he faced that inning -- Fowler and the last batter.
"I'm way too good at giving up crooked numbers," Dempster said.
The cushion should've helped Rockies starter Alan Johnson, who was making his Major League debut.
"You've got a guy making his first start and you want to give him a little room for error, room to figure things out," Smith said. "Then you've got a guy like Dempster who is just like a lot of other pitchers. If you don't get to him early, he can get settled in and be tough to hit."
The Cubs did rally. Geovany Soto hit a two-out RBI single in the second, Aramis Ramirez added an RBI single in the third and Darwin Barney scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 4. Starlin Castro smacked a two-out RBI double in the fourth to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Castro finished the series 7-for-13 with four RBIs.
The Rockies scored four in the eighth, sparked by Fowler's tiebreaking two-run double, to take the series. With the game tied at 5, Ryan Spilborghs led off with an infield single that Marcos Mateo (0-1) deflected with his glove. Could Castro make a play on the ball?
"No chance," Castro said.
Spilborghs reached third when Jose Lopez blooped a double to right that Kosuke Fukudome overran. Mateo struck out the next two batters, but Fowler lined the ball up the middle into right-center, driving in a pair. Herrera and Gonzalez each added RBI singles as the Rockies improved to 12-3, best record in the Major Leagues.
"That epitomizes baseball here in Colorado," Quade said. "You're never out of it -- we came back, you never feel safe. You get within one pitch of getting out of a heck of a mess in the eighth."
The Cubs completed their three-city road trip 4-5, and now head back to Wrigley for a nine-game homestand vs. the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies. At least the Cubs will be done playing the Rockies by the end of the month.
Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza are a combined 3-4.
"All three have been healthy, all three have found a way to keep us in ballgames," Quade said of his big three. "None of them have hit their best stride yet. We know it's there. I just expect those guys to pitch well every time out -- there's no reason not to."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.