Cubs' Travis Wood stifles Rockies' bats in sharp outing

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs started Monday by locking up one part of their future, and then pitcher Travis Wood made his case to be the next on the list.

Wood pitched seven scoreless innings and the Cubs came within two outs of their first shutout since last August in a 9-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Wood (4-2) allowed two hits while striking out two for his major league-leading eighth quality start. He's the first Cubs pitcher since Hippo Vaughn in 1919 to start with eight quality starts. Wood also had two hits and an RBI for Chicago, which has won three straight for the second time this season.

Earlier in the day, the Cubs gave first baseman Anthony Rizzo a 7-year, $41 million contract extension. Wood, acquired in December 2011, doesn't have an extension like that, but is showing perhaps he might deserve one.

"I would love to be here for a long time with the Cubs, but that's out of my hands and I'm not really thinking about that right now at all," Wood said. "We've got to go out and win tomorrow, and I've got four more days to get ready for my next start and hopefully we can keep going on."

Wood started last season in Triple-A and wasn't called up to the Cubs until May 6 and didn't stay with Chicago for good until May 22. Now he's leading baseball in quality starts and, to manager Dale Sveum, becoming a major part of the "core" of the team.

He continued his run against a team that began Monday hitting .277 against left-handed pitching.

"That's as good an outing ... to throttle those guys the way they hit left-handed pitching is very, very impressive," Sveum said.

The Cubs offense wasn't bad, either.

With two outs in the first, Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead with his fourth home run. It was Soriano's 376th of his career, tying him for 69th all-time with former Red Sox and White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.

Chicago added to its lead with three in the third on two-out RBI doubles from Wood and Starlin Castro.

Wood's RBI was his first of the season and just his third hit.

The Cubs offense had 14 hits, one short of a season high. Along with Wood, Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus, Soriano, Castro and Castillo each had two hits.

Colorado starter Juan Nicasio (3-1) worked around a leadoff Soriano double in the third, but the five earned runs increased his ERA over the first three innings to 6.38.

"We tried to be aggressive against him," Castillo said. "Trying to get a pitch on top of home plate and trying to hit and trying to get Wood a couple runs."

Wood and the Cubs didn't need much more than that.

Josh Rutledge hit a home run off Carlos Marmol with one out in the ninth, ruining the Cubs' bid for their first shutout win since they beat Colorado on Aug. 26. The Cubs have gone 74 games between shutouts, their longest streak since going 75 in a row from May 15 until Aug. 6, 1999, according to STATS.

The Rockies have lost five of six and have scored 12 runs over those games. They were shut out twice over the weekend by St. Louis before scoring eight runs Sunday.

"We need to be more consistent. We've struggled, there's no question, lately offensively," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It looked like yesterday we busted out, but we need to be a little more consistent and put together some offense on a daily basis."

Nicasio recovered from a shaky first two innings to last six, allowing five runs and eight hits in his first loss of the season. Nicasio, who hasn't won since beating Arizona on April 26, allowed all five runs over the first two innings but finished with four scoreless.

"When you don't have the offense and they score nine runs, you don't deserve to win," Carlos Gonzalez said. "The last series, we faced some really good pitchers and the same stories."

Wood just wants to continue his own story.

"Tomorrow's a new day. You've got to get after it and put my work in," Wood said. "If I feel like I need to work on something, work on it and take the ball that fifth day and hopefully be able to keep it going."

Game notes
Cubs pitcher Matt Garza threw a bullpen session Monday. Garza, who hasn't pitched this season in the major leagues because of a strained lat suffered during spring training, is expected to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa. After that rehab start, his fourth, the Cubs will determine whether to activate Garza. ... Weiss said OF Dexter Fowler was getting the night off. Fowler is 2 for his last 26 and is hitting .262. ... Cubs 3B Luis Valbuena was not in the lineup for the second straight game after suffering a jammed right pinkie Saturday in Washington. ... Colorado hasn't won a three-game series at Wrigley Field since Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2006. .... Tuesday's pitching matchup is the Rockies' Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90) against the Cubs' Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02). ... Rizzo went 1 for 5.