Cubs’ fortunes turn as fifth inning gets ‘out of hand’ vs. Rockies

The Cubs lost the three-game series to the Rockies 2-1.

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Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon was charged with three earned runs in five innings against the Rockies on Wednesday.

Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon was charged with three earned runs in five innings against the Rockies on Wednesday.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

DENVER — Cubs left fielder Ian Happ slowed as he approached the warning track and positioned himself under Rockies star Kris Bryant’s fly to left-center. But when Happ made his final move to secure the ball, it glanced off his glove.

Bryant trotted into second base, extending what ended up being a game-turning, four-run fifth inning Wednesday. The Cubs would go on to lose to the Rockies 7-3.

The Rockies already had tied the score against starter Jameson Taillon on a two-run home run by Nolan Jones. And the sun proved to be a tough adversary on balls in the air all game.

The Cubs, however, couldn’t afford to give away freebies, especially after a sloppy loss the night before. On the pitch after Happ’s error, Taillon surrendered a two-run homer to Elehuris Montero.

‘‘If there’s an error, I love picking someone up,’’ said Taillon, who was charged with five runs (three earned) and seven hits in five innings. ‘‘And that’s a good way to build camaraderie: You have a guy make a mistake and you pick them up, then that builds that momentum. When you can’t pick someone up, it hurts a little extra.’’

With their defeat Wednesday, the Cubs lost the series 2-1. Still, they remain in the second National League wild-card spot. It was the Cubs’ second consecutive series loss after dropping three of four against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.

‘‘Big picture-wise, 27 games in 27 days, these guys are at the back end and grinding with everything they have,’’ manager David Ross said.

‘‘Some things didn’t show up that we’re normally better at this series. But we’re at the back end of the season, and they went 16-11 in 27 games.’’

Still, it could have been helpful in the long run for Taillon to continue the momentum he had begun to build with six scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks in his last start.

‘‘It looked like a pretty strong start,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Some things just got out of hand there really fast at the end of his start.’’

Taillon limited hard contact in the first three innings. He even navigated around a hit on a routine fly ball that rookie center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong missed, appearing to lose sight of the ball in the sun. Taillon picked him up by inducing a comebacker from the next batter to end the inning.

Even in the fourth, when Taillon gave up his first run, the Rockies’ hits were shallow line drives that found holes in Coors Field’s expansive outfield grass.

In the fifth, however, all four hits he gave up — two singles and two home runs — rocketed off the Rockies’ bats at a range of 102 to 109 mph. Taillon finished the inning, and the two unearned runs put the Rockies ahead 5-3.

The Cubs trailed the rest of the way, squandering a bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth.

Those unearned runs brought Taillon’s season total to 13, the most among NL pitchers with at least 20 starts.

‘‘We don’t ever get mad at people for physical errors,’’ Taillon said. ‘‘They happen. But I’m kind of frustrated with myself. That’s an opportunity for me to, like, make a statement that, ‘I have your back, and let’s get back in the dugout and hit.’ ’’

Instead, he threw a sinker that started in the middle of the plate and ran in, a perfect pitch for Montero to turn on. He did exactly that and dropped a homer just beyond the left-field fence.

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