Villanueva struggles as Rockies beat Cubs

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro throws to first base for the out on Colorado Rockies' Josh Rutledge during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Colorado won 9-4.

Paul Beaty, Associated Press

CHICAGO — Carlos Villanueva is trying to hold on to his spot in the Chicago rotation as Matt Garza gets closer to returning to the Cubs.

Villanueva knows his time in the rotation may be running out.

"We will be a stronger team when he comes back. Obviously, I have my own opinions, obviously a move will be made. Tonight didn't help my cause," Villanueva said. "For me, I will take the ball whenever they need me," said Villanueva. "They will make a decision. We're all professional and we'll handle it as professionals."

Carlos Gonzalez had three of his five hits against Villanueva and tagged him for one of his two home runs to lead the struggling Colorado Rockies to a 9-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Garza, who hasn't pitched in the majors this season after straining a lat during spring training, is expected to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa. Following that outing, he and the team will decide if he'll come back. Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't rule out going to a six-man rotation when Garza does come back.

The Cubs saw their three-game winning streak end. They haven't won four straight since last Sept. 7-10.

Gonzalez was a huge reason why.

Gonzalez was 5 for 5 and fell a triple shy of a cycle, and Eric Young Jr. also homered for the Rockies, who had lost five of their last six.

Gonzalez became the first Rockies player to have five hits since Miguel Olivo on May 12, 2010.

Colorado increased its lead to 5-0 in the third when Gonzalez hit his eighth of the season deep into the right-field bleachers. His home run in the ninth put the Rockies up 8-3 and gave him nine multi-home run games in his career. The five hits for Gonzalez was a career-high.

Gonzalez has lifetime .427 batting average against the Cubs with 8 home runs in 19 games.

Villanueva (1-3) allowed six runs and 12 hits — including seven for extra bases — in five innings for the Cubs. He is winless since April 18 and has allowed 18 earned runs in his last four starts after giving up five in his first four.

Jeff Francis (2-3), winless since April 5, pitched six innings and gave up one run in three hits while striking out seven. After winning his first start, Francis was 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA over his next six outings.

Colorado was in danger of falling to one game above .500 for the first time since April 10, but jumped on Villanueva quickly. Colorado had scored 12 runs in its last six games, including eight Sunday at St. Louis.

"It was a bad stretch, not being able to score runs or be able to help the team," Gonzalez said. "I think the pitchers did a tremendous job every single game but it's frustrating when you're not able to put runs on the board."

Villanueva was unable to make any adjustments throughout the game.

"Every time I left the ball up it got hit hard. I made some OK pitches. When the good ones get hit, the bad ones get hit even harder," said Villanueva. "They had been struggling offensively, but it happens. It seems like all guys get hot at the same time."

The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Gonzalez's RBI single, driving in Young who led off with a double.

"(Gonzalez) is one of those players that's always a day away from doing something like that, or doing something you rarely see in this game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's got that kind of ability. It was nice to see not only him, but our offense bust out tonight."

Colorado scored three in the second, capped off by Young's two-out, two-run home run. It was Young's first homer of the season and landed atop the canopy in straightaway center field. Francis had a sacrifice fly that brought in Nolan Arenado.