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PIT@CHC: Rusin throws five strong for his first win

While the Cubs have struggled most of the season, entering the home stretch fifth in the National League Central division, their bullpen has quietly put together a solid run as the team makes evaluations for the future.

Over Chicago's last 16 games, the bullpen has a 2.98 ERA (21 earned runs in 63 1/3 innings). Specifically, manager Dale Sveum praised the efforts of righties Jaye Chapman, Rafael Dolis, Alberto Cabrera and Shawn Camp.

That relief pitching could come in handy when the Cubs travel to hitter-friendly Coors Field on Tuesday.

Chris Rusin will make the start in the first of three games against the Rockies, but the lefty hasn't pitched more than five innings in any of his five starts for the Cubs since making his big league debut Aug. 21, meaning the bullpen could play a big role against Colorado.

"Bullpens are very difficult to put together and any general manager will tell you that," Sveum said. "Sometimes there's a lot of luck involved in it, finding diamonds in the rough. ... It's just the hardest thing to put together is a bullpen, so it's nice to see these guys coming back from a little bit of adversity and doing nice things."

The Rockies will counter with lefty Jorge De La Rosa in Tuesday's opener. De La Rosa will be making his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.

The lefty didn't have his top fastball velocity, topping out at 92 mph, but he pitched competitively in his first game back despite getting knocked around. De La Rosa gave up six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings against the Giants.

"The bright spot is that obviously, a very important left-handed starting pitcher for us was coming out there and showing signs that he is going to get himself back to be being the guy that we know he is capable of being, and hopefully then some," manager Jim Tracy said after De La Rosa's season debut. "I thought his fastball command, for the most part, was good, and he threw some terrific changeups. He threw a couple of real good curveballs."

Cubs: Sveum a fan of new playoff format
• Although the Cubs aren't in playoff contention, Sveum finds himself intrigued by the postseason scenarios during the season's final weeks. He said this time of the year, he's a fan like everyone else.

Sveum said he's keeping tabs on the scoreboard, and that his interest is heightened with this year's addition of the second Wild Card.

"I think it's good for everybody to think, 'If we can just roll off 12 in a row, we're capable of doing it,' and keep fighting the last few weeks for that extra spot," Sveum said. "Fans, TV, I think it benefits everybody when you have that one last breath to make it. It's good for the game."

Rockies: CarGo gets MRI on hamstring

• The Rockies decided to send Carlos Gonzalez for an MRI on Monday after seeing the outfielder limp all of last week and have cramping and soreness in his left hamstring.

The injury, which he suffered Sept. 16 in San Diego and tweaked during a pinch-hit appearance a day later, is the latest problem for Gonzalez. He missed time when his grandfather died and has dealt with opposing pitchers avoiding him without Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton protecting him the lineup.

While playing through the injury, Gonzalez has gone 0-for-8 and seen his season batting average drop to .303.

Worth noting

• The Cubs have taken two of three from the Rockies, taking the first and third games of a three-game set Aug. 24-26 at Wrigley Field.

• With a 4-2 win over the D-backs on Monday night, the Rockies are 22-38 against the National League West this season and 6-9 against Arizona. Comments