Rapid Reaction: Rockies 9, Cubs 3

How it happened: The Chicago Cubs were playing their best baseball of the year entering play on Saturday in Denver, having won seven of their past 10 and 14 of the previous 23. Right-handed pitcher Carlos Villanueva was on the mound facing Colorado Rockies RHP Juan Nicasio. The old saying in baseball is you can’t walk the other team’s pitcher. That is exactly what Villanueva did in the fourth, setting up a two-run triple by Dexter Fowler, as the Rockies scored three runs in the inning. Then Villanueva blew up in the fifth; the Cubs starter surrendered a monster home run (457 feet into upper deck) to Carlos Gonzalez and three straight hits before departing. Leadoff man Luis Valbuena contributed with a solo home run (No. 9) and an RBI single.

What it means: Villanueva lost his sixth game of the season and second against Colorado. The Rockies appear to have his number; they have scored 14 runs on 21 hits in nine innings against him so far in 2013. Chicago had been on a good role as of late, winning 25 of 46 since May 26. (They were 18-30 before that.) The Cubs are 5-1-2 over their past eight series, Sunday’s rubber game of this series pending. Rookie Junior Lake continues to contribute, chipping in with a single and a walk in his second big league game. Lake had three hits in his major league debut Friday evening.

Outside the box: The Matt Garza trade watch continues, with fewer rumors attached to the Rangers and Cubs’ proposed deal. ... Outfielder David DeJesus, on the DL since June 15 with a right strain, played in a game with the club's short season rookie club in Mesa, Ariz. ... DeJesus could return to the major league team in a week, if he does not have a setback in his rehab. ... If Garza gets traded, the Cubs will turn to either minor leaguers LHP Brooks Raley or LHP Chris Rusin on Monday in Phoenix.

Up next: RHP Edwin Jackson (6-10, 5.11) faces the Rockies' RHP Tyler Chatwood (5-3, 2.56) in the finale of the three-game series at 3:10 CT.