CHICAGO (AP) -- Mark Prior was as surprised as anybody when he
found out that he was going to get a chance to pitch his first
career complete game.
Pitchers today do not put up the numbers they did in the past.
Prior had a career-high 13 strikeouts, pitching a five-hitter to
lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on
Sunday. With his pitch count already at 120 after eight innings, Prior
got the call to finish the game. "I was kind of surprised that they did send me out there,''
Prior said. "You got to do it sometime and get the feel what it's
like to close a game out.'' Prior, in his 14th career start, took a shutout into the eighth
inning. The 21-year-old right-hander walked two and finished the
game by striking out Jack Cust for the third time on his 136th
pitch of the game. "He was on his last hitter,'' Cubs interim manager Bruce Kimm
said. "Really I didn't want him to go over 130. He was throwing
very well and I just wanted to see him close it out himself.'' Prior (5-3) retired 13 of the first 14 batters, striking out
eight. He struck out the side in order in the first, getting Todd
Helton swinging to end the inning. Prior has reached double digits
in strikeouts five times. "He was just lightening,'' Cubs catcher Todd Hundley said.
"You can tell the hitters it's coming and they just can't get to
it.'' The Rockies finished 2-10 on their longest road trip of the
season. Mark Bellhorn hit a two-run homer in the second against Shawn
Chacon (5-8) to make it 4-0. Bellhorn tied the franchise record for
most homers by a switch hitter in a season. Augie Galan also hit 18
home runs in 1937. Fred McGriff's RBI double and Moises Alou's RBI single put
Chicago ahead in the first. The Rockies scored their only run against Prior in the eighth.
Juan Uribe reached on an infield hit and Gary Bennett singled to
right moving Uribe to third. Brent Butler pitch-hitting for Kent
Mercker hit into a double-play scoring Uribe. Bennett was 3-for-3. "I didn't discover some secret to hitting Prior. He just had a
couple of pitches he didn't locate where he wanted it,'' Bennett
said. "He's got good stuff and he is as advertised.''
Chacon allowed four runs and six hits in four innings.
Larry Walker had the day off. He is currently on a 17-game
hit streak. ... The Rockies had their worst record on a four-city
roadtrip in club history. ... Gabe Kapler made a diving catch in
the fourth to rob Bill Mueller of a base hit. The Cubs optioned RHP
Francis Beltran to Double-A West Tennessee after the game. ... Cubs
starters have reached double-digit strikeouts 14 times this season.