Rich Hill said one bad pitch spoiled an otherwise decent performance Saturday night at Coors Field.
But that one pitch turned out to be a back-breaker in a 15-2 loss to Colorado, pushing the Cubs 1½ games behind first-place Milwaukee.
On a night when Lou Piniella was caught on camera having an animated dugout conversation with first-base coach Matt Sinatro and the Cubs' bullpen imploded in the late innings, Hill's 1-2 fastball to Jamey Carroll in the sixth inning resulted in a tie-breaking grand slam, ending the Rockies' six-game losing streak against the Cubs.
"I feel I executed my pitches the way I wanted to," Hill said. "But it's a result-driven game, and when you don't have the results, you have to be able to find out what you did that day. One pitch ruins a day results-wise, but execution-wise, I felt it was a very good game."
Hill allowed seven runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, falling to 6-7 for the year. He showed his frustration in the Cubs' dugout after his departure, and it was a harbinger of things to come.
The Cubs trailed 7-2 in the top of the seventh when Matt Murton came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Murton hit a chopper that Carroll gloved at third and made a quick throw to first, where umpire Chris Guccione called Murton out on a bang-bang play to end the inning.
Sinatro questioned Guccione about the call, but when he came back to the dugout he got an earful from Piniella. The local TV cameras focused on the two for more than a minute, and Piniella appeared to be upset that Sinatro didn't argue the call more strenuously.
Piniella and Sinatro are close friends, and Sinatro has coached under Piniella for 12 seasons on three different teams. But Piniella showed once again he expects everyone to do his job the way he wants it done, no matter if it's a player, a coach or a lifelong friend.
Asked about the conversation, Piniella said: "I was looking to see what Matty thought. It's hard for me to see from the dugout. Matty said it was real close. So did the umpire.
"But real close means you can be safe just as easy as out, right? Anyway, that's not why we lost. We lost because they put up 13 runs in [the final] three innings."
Sinatro said he thought Murton may have been out on a close play. Murton said he didn't know if he was safe or out.
"In the heat of the moment, of course I thought I was safe," he said. "It's a really close play, and their job is to make the calls. I know it's crazy, but a high percentage of the time they get it right, and they're human too."
Either way, the Rockies poured it on from there, scoring eight runs off Sean Gallagher and Scott Eyre in the seventh and eighth and handing the Cubs their worst loss of the season.
"It was a good game for about five innings," Piniella said. "And then it got away."
Josh Fogg (7-7) got the win, allowing two runs in six innings.
Saturday marked the first time all year Piniella had used the same starting lineup for three consecutive games. He has used 95 different lineups, and the same one for two games in a row on only three occasions before this week. Piniella wasn't sure if he'd start the same one on Sunday against 36-year-old righty Tim Harikkala.
The Cubs aren't likely to tinker much with their roster. Despite reports they put in a waiver claim on Scott Podsednik, sources said management is willing to roll the dice with the current group of outfielders.