- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Carlos Gonzalez hit a three-run homer, Franklin Morales pitched four effective innings and the Colorado Rockies overcame Carlos Villanueva’s eight strikeouts to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-6 Wednesday night.

Right fielder Nate Schierholtz didn’t even move when Gonzalez drilled Villanueva’s 3-2 slider over the wall behind him in the third. It was the second homer of the spring for the two-time All-Star, who was slowed by injuries last season.

“He’s good to go,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, smiling.

Competing for the final rotation spot, Morales walked three in the first two innings. But he settled down and allowed one unearned run and one hit while striking out three.

In his first start of the spring, Villanueva struck out Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau twice each in four innings. The right-hander gave up three runs and three hits.

“This team has given me nightmares and they had their full squad out there,” Villanueva said. “The strikeouts are nice, but the fact that I was getting swings and misses and getting quick outs, I’ll take that.”

Charlie Blackmon, competing for Colorado’s open center field job, hit a three-run homer off Paola Espino in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever hit a walk-off home run, ever, anywhere,” Blackmon said. “Every at-bat counts.”


Cubs: Another year, same questions about where Villanueva will end up: starter or bullpen?

“This is my ninth season, and I think at least six, every team I’ve been (on), I’ve had the same (questions),” Villanueva said. “I’m used to it by now. It doesn’t upset me. It’s a competition. It’s fun and it’s exciting.”

Rockies: Morales had an opposite-field double off Villanueva in the second and ran gingerly into second base with what he said was tightness in his groin.

He stayed in the game, but Morales‘ left thigh was wrapped in ice after his 69-pitch outing.

“I don’t think it’s going to hold him back,” Weiss said.


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