CHICAGO (AP) — After nine seasons in Japan and three years in the minor leagues, Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada finally picked up that elusive first major league victory.
Wada (1-1) left little doubt to Monday night’s outcome, pitching seven strong innings as the Chicago Cubs defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-1.
“I’m so happy for him,” catcher John Baker said about Wada’s first win. “It’s great, when you’re having a tough season like we’re having, to have little victories like that.”
In only his third career start in the majors, Wada cut through the Colorado lineup, allowing one run and five hits. It was a far cry from his last outing, when he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs in a loss to San Diego.
The sole blemish on Wada’s performance came in the sixth when the Rockies got three hits, capped by Nolan Arenado’s RBI single.
“He executed pitches, got some big outs when he needed to and got out of traffic that developed late,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He did a nice job and gave us some innings.”
The 33-year-old Wada won 107 games over nine seasons in Japan. He signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles two seasons ago but injured his elbow soon after joining the club and underwent undergo Tommy John surgery in May 2012. He signed with the Cubs in December 2013.
“It’s the second time I pitched in Chicago, so it was a little more relaxed,” Wada said through a translator. “I’m happy about this first win.”
Pedro Strop worked out of a jam in the eighth inning and Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 16 chances.
Yohan Flande (0-3) struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings. Those were his career bests in his fifth start.
“Flande put us in position to win that game,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “We just couldn’t put together a big inning.”
Flande faced the minimum through three innings, but the Cubs got to the Rockies starter for two runs in the fourth. Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and Arismendy Alcantara doubled, setting up Rizzo’s RBI grounder and Justin Ruggiano’s sacrifice fly.
Chicago added two more runs in the eighth against Nick Masset. Baker scored on an errant pickoff throw and Rizzo singled for his 58th RBI this season.
Rockies: SS Troy Tulowitzki (left hip) underwent an acupuncture-like procedure in Philadelphia. ... 1B Justin Morneau (strained neck) was scheduled to a make a rehab start with the Triple-A Colorado Springs. Manager Walt Weiss said Morneau could return as soon as Tuesday, the first day he’s eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. ... LHP Boone Logan (intestinal condition) was also scheduled to make his first rehab appearance with Colorado Springs.
Cubs: Renteria is encouraged by left-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa’s rehab assignment in Triple-A Iowa. “I can say that he’s responding well after his outings,” Renteria said. “We’ll continue to monitor and see where he’s at. All indications, I can say that he’s doing fine.” Fujikawa, 34, underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2013.
In the second game of the four-game series, Edwin Jackson (5-11, 5.68) starts for the Cubs on Tuesday night, looking for his first win since June 20. He will face Jorge De La Rosa (11-6, 4.19).
The Rockies produced two phenomenal defensive plays. Third baseman Arenado showcased his skills in the sixth inning. On a hard hit ball by Alcantara, Arenado dived to his right, gloved the two-hopper and made a quick throw from his knees to get the speedy Alcantara at first.
In the eighth inning with runners at the corners, shortstop Charlie Culberson made a diving stop up the middle, flipped the ball from his glove to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who then threw to first to complete the inning ending double play.