DENVER — Maybe this is what Cubs manager Joe Maddon meant when he said he wasn’t worried about his starting rotation.
John Lackey pitched what might have been the rotation’s best start of the season in Game 2, as the Cubs stopped a four-game skid by beating the Rockies 8-1 to earn a doubleheader split.
Lackey became only the second visiting pitcher in Coors Field history to pitch at least seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. Pedro Martinez pitched a five-hitter 20 years ago.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve been good here,” said Lackey (3-3), who had allowed 17 earned runs in 16⅔ innings in his three previous career starts in Denver. “One thing I know about baseball is I have no idea. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Good location and a good breaking ball in the toughest place in baseball to throw added up to a 105-pitch, seven-inning effort that gave a lift to a club that lost the first game 10-4, and a rotation that came into the game with a 4.81 ERA.
“He really picked us up when it was needed,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of starting performance we’re used to getting out of our entire staff. So hopefully he’s going to set the tone moving forward.
“Starting pitching drives the engine. Don’t ever be deceived.”
Meet me in St. Louis?
Because Monday’s rainout pushed Jake Arrieta’s scheduled start into Tuesday, the Cubs can’t kick their four-man rotation can into next week.
Barring another rainout Wednesday, they’ll need a fifth starter during the weekend series in St. Louis, which likely means calling up right-hander Eddie Butler from Class AAA Iowa to start Friday.
After Brett Anderson (back) went on the disabled list over the weekend, the Cubs hoped to use off days to get to May 20 before needing a fifth starter.
Maddon said he wasn’t ready to say who the Cubs were considering for that start. But it was clear they were waiting out a questionable forecast for Wednesday to determine whether the fifth man would be needed.
Maddon did say he was considering moving Jon Lester back a day, to Saturday, after his 120-pitch outing Sunday. Butler (1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five starts for Iowa) last pitched Saturday.
The Cubs’ other option would be left-hander Mike Montgomery, who has been stretched in recent relief outings and said he’s prepared to start if asked.
This and that
The unsung hero of the day was right-hander Dylan Floro, who was called up from Class AAA Iowa on Monday and pitched 4⅓ innings of strong relief in Game 1. The 61-pitch outing also assured he will be optioned back to Iowa on Wednesday.
• The Floro move means infielder Jeimer Candelario, who made a dazzling play at third and had two key at-bats in the Cubs’ five-run second as the cleanup hitter in Game 2, gets an extended stay with the club. He was added to the roster for the nightcap.
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