DENVER — Javier Baez was grateful to have the chance to hit a game-winning home run Tuesday night after striking out three times.
With each opportunity, Baez seeks to narrow gaps in his game as quickly as possible.
"Hopefully, I'll figure it out very soon and start doing well," Baez said.
From Wednesday night until the end of the regular season, the Cubs point to the final 71/2 weeks of the regular season as on-the-job training for what they hope will be prosperous futures for Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, who hit a two-run home run but needed work in Coors Field's spacious center field as his play allowed singles to turn into doubles.
Baez played impressive defense but went 0-for-4 as the worst outing of Jake Arrieta's career with the Cubs overshadowed the rookie in a 13-4 debacle.
Arrieta, who limited the Rockies to three hits in seven innings of a 3-1 victory July 31, was knocked out after allowing seven consecutive hits to start the sixth. Arrieta allowed a career-high 13 hits and tied his career high with nine earned runs allowed as his ERA swelled from 2.11 to 2.80.
Arrieta blew all of a 3-0 lead in the fourth and allowed six runs in the sixth, as the Rockies took the lead for good on Carlos Gonzalez's two-run homer.
Arrieta (6-3) had allowed three runs or fewer in his 11 previous starts, a streak he was made aware of from family members and friends.
"My team got me the lead twice, but not being able to hold that is probably the most frustrating part of the outing," Arrieta said. "Those are big situations. You get a two- or three-run lead, you have to protect it."
Meanwhile, Baez didn't strike out but showed he needs some work with situational hitting. After Chris Coghlan led off the game with a triple, Baez hacked at the first pitch and fouled out to first.
"Once you get here, a lot of different things can happen," manager Rick Renteria said. "We just want him to be a sponge and keep learning and moving forward and hopefully be very productive."
Defensively, Baez made a backhanded stop and strong throw to retire Nolan Arenado to end the first, and he quickly charged and threw in one motion to retire D.J. LeMahieu to start the third.
"The first two games I played at second at Triple A, it was kind of different, kind of hard," Baez said of his transition from shortstop last month. "But now I'm used to it and seeing the ball off the bat.''
Despite the loss, Arrieta is very optimistic about the future.
"It's pretty exciting to see what's going on the last few days," Arrieta said. "We already have guys here who have firmly established themselves, and then you add Alcantara and Baez to the mix, and we all know what those guys can do."