Cubs buried early in 12-6 spring-training loss to Rockies

Jon Lester struggled with command as he worked on his fastball in his first start of the spring; Ian Happ’s three-run double was the Cubs’ big blow of the game.

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Ian Happ’s double to right-center cleared the bases in the fourth inning.

John Antonoff photo


Hit parade

The Cubs (2-2) have scored 22 runs in their last two games but have been outscored 24-22 in those games and managed only a split (they beat the Mariners 16-12 on Monday). The Rockies opened a 10-0 lead early in this one.

Second chance

Veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis, a two-time All-Star in camp on a minor-league deal, ranged to his left to make a nice play for the first out of the game and drove in the Cubs’ first run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. He remains the favorite in a crowded field of contenders at second.

Weighing options

Right-hander Duane Underwood Jr., a second-round draft pick in 2012, might be facing a opening-roster-or-bust scenario this spring because he’s out of minor-league options. That made the third inning, in which he gave up four singles, a walk and a wild pitch before getting a second out, especially tough. After a scoreless inning in the Cubs’ spring opener Saturday, Underwood faced eight batters and gave up three earned runs in one inning.

Starting blocks

In his first start of the spring, five-time All-Star Jon Lester’s command was off as he worked on his fastball until hitting his pitch limit nine batters into his start.

‘‘Nothing is effective without fastball command, and I obviously didn’t have that,’’ said Lester, who nonetheless said he thought he threw some good pitches and felt strong. ‘‘I feel like I’m in a better place right now physically than I have been in at least a year.’’

Many Happ returns

Ian Happ, the Cubs’ leadoff hitter and center fielder for the day, delivered half the Cubs’ run production on one hit – a bases-clearing double to right-center batting right-handed. He’s 2-for-6 without a strikeout in his first two games of the spring.

On deck

Royals at Cubs, Mesa, 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, MSN, Brady Singer vs. Kyle Hendricks.

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