DENVER – Of all the things said in the Cubs’ clubhouse Sunday after their stunning ninth-inning comeback to beat the Colorado Rockies, Kyle Hendricks probably summed it up best:
“I don’t think we win this last year,” he said of the 6-5 victory on the strength of Dexter Fowler’s two-out, two-strike, two-run homer in the ninth.
Hendricks, who debuted last summer, had no way of knowing how right he was. The Cubs lost all 79 games in which they entered the ninth inning trailing last year.
“It’s just the confidence factor,” said Hendricks, who gave up a four-run second and handed a 5-3 deficit to the bullpen in the fifth. “All the new guys coming in here. The winning attitude, the winning ways.”
Fowler, who tripled twice in Saturday night’s win, is obviously one of the new guys. But Hendricks also is talking about World Series manager Joe Maddon, who navigated the later innings with a short bench, and World Series-winning reliever Jason Motte, who retired five of the six men he faced, including two in the fifth to strand a runner at third. And about World Series-winning lefty Phil Coke, who followed Motte with four more outs, and about guys like playoff catcher Miguel Montero, who drove in a run early, and caught four relievers through 4 2/3 innings.
“These guys know how to win. It just showed right there,” Hendricks said. “There was energy in the dugout the whole game.”
Second-year infielder Arismendy Alcantara led off the ninth against ex-Cub LaTroy Hawkins with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Welington Castillo drove him in with a one-out single, setting the stage for Dexter, who jumped on an 0-2 slider from Hawkins for a no-doubt shot to right.
“Anytime you come to a city and win a series on the road, it’s awesome,” said Fowler, who was making his first appearance in Colorado since the Rockies traded him to Houston before last season. “Getting back home, hopefully we’ll take a deep breath, relax a little bit, sleep in our own beds and get comfortable.”
The win pushed the Cubs’ record above .500 for the first time since the third game of the 2013 season, April 4. It’s only the third day in more than three years since Theo Epstein’s front office took over that the Cubs have owned a winning record.
“We’re not afraid to be down,” said third baseman Mike Olt. “I think this year we’ve got a lot of fight.”
“I love when you win that kind of game, on the road, utilizing everybody,” Maddon said. “It’s really good for esprit de corps.”
NOTES: Infielder Tommy La Stella has been unavailable all weekend and could face a disabled list stint if his rib cage soreness lingers much into the homestand. He hasn’t swung a bat since Wednesday. …Olt escaped injury when hit on the right wrist by a pitch Saturday night. By Sunday morning the swelling was gone, and he came off the bench to pinch-hit in the ninth and played third in the bottom of the inning. …Catcher Castillo has been working out at third for possible emergency use.