For two days and five innings, the Cubs were able to keep the Rockies lineup in check. But a pinch-hit grand slam by Jamey Carroll led to a five-run sixth inning for the Rockies and a tie turned into a rout.
Rich Hill pitched well for five innings and even helped his own cause with an RBI single in the fourth. But Hill (6-7) fell apart in the sixth with two outs, loading the bases for Carroll after hitting Ian Stewart with a pitch.
"One pitch ruins a day, result-wise, but execution-wise I thought it was a very good game," Hill said.
The Cubs led, 1-0, after Josh Fogg walked Mike Fontenot with the bases loaded in the first inning. But Fogg (7-7) held the Cubs to two runs on five hits in six innings.
The Cubs had the makings of a rally in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. Matt Murton hit a grounder to Carroll at third and was called out at first, but appeared safe from the Cubs' vantage point.
"It was a really close play," Murton said. "You go back and you think about it and in the heat of the moment, of course I thought I was safe."
So did Piniella, who ran on the field to argue.
"That's not why we lost," he said. "We lost because they just put up 13 runs in three innings."
After scoring 16 runs the first two games in Denver, the Cubs offense Saturday resembled the Cubs offense in Houston, where they scored five runs and went 2-for-34 with runners in scoring position. They left 10 runners on base Saturday.
The Cubs already ended the Rockies streak of nine straight series victories at Coors Field and have a chance Sunday to win the series, which a visiting team hasn't done since the Royals took two out of three May 18-20.
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.