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CHC@COL: Rizzo smashes a solo homer to right-center

DENVER -- The Cubs are running out of games in their effort to avoid a 100-loss season.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run and an RBI single and Alfonso Soriano added an RBI double, but the Cubs came up short in a 7-5 loss to the Rockies on Thursday, and have now tied their single-season franchise record of 56 road losses, set in 1956.

"It's not fun losing," Darwin Barney said.

It was Chicago's fifth straight loss, and 97th of the season. The Cubs must win four of their final six games to avoid 100 losses. What will make it even tougher is that three of those games are in Arizona this weekend. The Cubs are 0-16 on the road this season against National League West teams.

According to STATS Inc., no team has finished a season winless on the road against one division. The closest was the 2002 Brewers, who went 1-14 against the NL East.

"[One hundred losses] is something we want to avoid and something else we want to avoid is not winning a game against the NL West out West," Rizzo said. "We just have to string it together. We're putting up runs, but not enough."

Worst road record vs. division since 1969
With Thursday's loss to the Rockies, the Cubs dropped to 0-16 on the road against the National League West. According to STATS Inc., no team has ever finished a season winless against one division on the road. The Cubs have three games remaining against the D-backs in Arizona.
Year
Team
Division
Record
2012CubsNL West0-16
2002BrewersNL East1-14
2005RoyalsAL East2-17
2004D-backsNL West4-33

Trailing 7-3 in the ninth, the Cubs scored twice on Rizzo's RBI single and an RBI double by Soriano, raising his season total to 106 RBIs. They had runners at second and third with nobody out, but Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt struck out Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters, then got Anthony Recker to ground out to shortstop to end the game.

"It's one thing those guys don't do, the offense doesn't quit," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We had some good at-bats off pretty good pitching down the stretch. We were one hit away from tying that game after a tough day."

Chris Volstad (3-11) took the loss, giving up 10 hits over three innings, his shortest outing since he lasted two innings on May 17 against the Phillies. Volstad was sent to Triple-A Iowa after that game.

He had thrown 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies on Aug. 26 at Wrigley Field. Not this time. On Thursday, everyone in the Rockies lineup had a hit off Volstad, who has one more start Tuesday during the final homestand against the Astros.

"There was no life, no breaking balls, no sticking to the game plan," Sveum said. "He pitched a pretty good game against these guys last time, glove side, down and away, and I don't know what was going on."

Volstad said he and catcher Steve Clevenger stuck to their plan.

"The first inning pretty much killed me," Volstad said. "It's easy to say, continue what you're doing, throw good pitches, but you're trying to get outs when you're out there. Home runs got me again. One was a fastball, one was a breaking ball. I just need to keep making good pitches and keep moving forward."

The first two Rockies batters reached on infield singles to set up Jordan Pacheco's three-run home run. Brett Jackson's RBI single in the second made it 3-1 but DJ LeMahieu, a former Cubs prospect traded to Colorado in the Ian Stewart deal, hit a two-run home run in the Rockies' half for a 5-1 lead.

"We're just trying to go out there and put as many runs up as we can, like any other team," Pacheco said of the first inning. "Hitting's contagious, and once you see somebody get a hit and somebody else get a hit, it's definitely contagious."

Rizzo belted his 15th home run with two outs in the third, and had an interesting at-bat in the fifth against Jhoulys Chacin (3-5). The right-hander threw behind Rizzo, who eventually walked. The Cubs then loaded the bases and Rizzo came home on Luis Valbuena's grounder, sliding closer to catcher Wilin Rosario than home plate. Rizzo was forced out.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Rizzo said of the fifth inning at-bat. "I did a pretty good job to get out of the way. The first pitch was a changeup and the second was behind my back. I shook it off and went from there."

Was he thinking about that when he slid?

"No, I think it was just [Chacin] bobbled it, and I didn't want to get that double play," Rizzo said. "I slide hard all the time trying to break something up. I guess that's just coincidence."

Said Sveum: "That's the way you play the game. You don't quit or anything like that. You keep somebody from turning a double play."

The Cubs, outscored 23-10 in the three-game series, have lost 97 games for the first time since 2000.

"Today kind of sums up the year, really," Volstad said. "In the last inning, we were fighting, got really close. The fight is there and everyone is trying their best. Things just haven't gone our way."

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