Just breezing along

Chicago CubsSammy SosaMark BellhornShawn EstesShawn ChaconMark GuthrieKyle Farnsworth

It took the Cubs until May 23 last year to register their 17th win, the number they hit Friday with a 7-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies before a wind-blown crowd of 29,236.

But more than the record is different from a year ago.

"It's a heck of a lot better feeling in the clubhouse," closer Joe Borowski said after taking over in the eighth inning with the tying run at the plate and collecting his fifth save.

"This time last year guys were pretty much moping around. This year you can just tell. Guys have that lively step … it's just unbelievable. We come to the field believing we can win every game we play.

"We hit so low last year there was just no getting out of it."

There won't be any emotional lows just yet.

The Cubs didn't crawl into their beds until early Friday morning after a flight from San Francisco and were faced with a day game at Wrigley Field.

No problem.

Although Cubs manager Dusty Baker gave his charges a later check-in time Friday to let them sleep, a number of players still arrived at the park early.

One who might have cause to complain was starter Shawn Estes (2-3), whom the Cubs tried to send back on an earlier flight.

But that flight was so delayed that Estes simply got on the team charter and landed with his teammates.

Neither that nor his aching back proved to be a problem.

Estes ducked into the training room between innings to stretch under the guidance of trainer Dave Tumbas, then came out and shut down the Rockies through seven innings.

Kyle Farnsworth, Mark Guthrie and Borowski followed Estes, who faltered in the eighth, and closed out the Rockies for the Cubs' third win in four games.

Rockies starter Shawn Chacon (4-1) had limited the Cubs to three hits in seven innings last Saturday.

But Friday they battered him with five doubles through the first five innings as Colorado fielders struggled with the 20-m.p.h. northeast wind.

Mark Bellhorn, slumping to .200 and in the lineup because of the travel schedule, had a double, a single, a walk and three RBIs.

Seven of the nine Cubs starters reached base at least twice.

Bellhorn's troubles had cost him some starts and he responded to the benching the way Baker wanted him to.

Baker "just wanted to get me some time off, maybe get a little more hungry," Bellhorn said. "I just started enjoying it more. Maybe I was pressing too much."

Hee Seop Choi and Sammy Sosa had two doubles each as the Cubs built a 7-1 lead behind Estes, who allowed only one Colorado runner as far as second through the first five innings.

Estes had been roughed up for 12 hits and seven runs in two innings against the Rockies last week.

That was at high altitude.

This was in the jaws of a wind from somewhere near Newfoundland, and the Cubs fared better in it than their guests did.

"The elements help out a lot," Baker said.

"Nobody likes them. But this is your home. Every day you come out here, first thing you do is check the elements. It's tough on everybody."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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