Baseball / Sports

Cubs' rookie phenom Baez hits game-winning homer in 6-5 win over Rockies

DENVER--In the mind of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the timing couldn't be better for Chicago Cubs mega prospect Javier Baez to make his major league debut Tuesday night at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies.

"Playing in Colorado and facing lefties is a great time to start any right handed power hitter's career," Rizzo said as the Cubs faced left-hander Brett Anderson. "Hopefully he runs into a few balls, gets a few hits early to relax."

Baez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts before saving his best for last--a home run to right center off left-hander Boone Logan in the 12th inning that gave the Cubs a 6-5 victory.

Baez, who hit 23 home runs at Triple-A Iowa, received a hero's welcome after returning to the dugout. Baez's home run traveled an estimated 414 feet, and his homer was reminiscent of his opposite field blast he hit in the Futures Game at Target Field that landed over the wall in right center.

In the top of the 11th, Starlin Castro hit a drive off the left field wall but barely made it to second for a double. After a pair of one-out walks, Ryan Sweeney hit a bloop single into right field to score Castro to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead.

But with one out in the bottom of the 11th, Jason Pridie hit a chopper that caromed off a charging Baez for what was ruled a hit. Charlie Blackmon followed with a single off Hector Rondon.

With two out, Charlie Culbertson poked a game-tying single into right field.

Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter allowed hits to Nolan Arenado and Justin Morneau to start the 10th. After a sacrifice bunt by Drew Stubbs and intentional walk to Wilin Rosario, Brandon Barnes grounded into a double play.

Baez struck out on a breaking pitch in his first at-bat against Anderson, who left in the top of the fourth because of lower back spasms.

In his second at-bat, Baez hit a grounder toward the hole, but third baseman Nolan Arenado ranged to his left to field and retire Baez for the second out of the fourth.

Baez struck out on three pitches in the sixth.

The Cubs missed a chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth. Luis Valbuena hit a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error by reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Valbuena moved to third on a fly to right, but pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz grounded into a double play.

The Cubs did take advantage of six walks in the seventh to score three times and take a 4-3 lead. Baez missed a chance to break the game open as he hit a line drive with the bases loaded right at Barnes in right for the final out.

Cubs starter Travis Wood pitched six innings but was pulled for a pinch hitter after only 74 pitches. Chris Valaika hit a sacrifice fly to put the Cubs ahead, but left-hander Wesley Wright allowed a game-tying home run to Arenado with two out in the bottom of the seventh.

The Rockies took a 2-0 lead in the second on a double by Barnes down the third base line.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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