The Colorado Rockies need as much pitching as they can get. That's why having a healthy Shawn Chacon is so important.
After missing nearly a month with a sore hamstring, Chacon threw four crisp innings to solidify his spot in the rotation and lead Colorado over Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs 7-6 on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.
"It was good to see him out on the mound and the ball came out of his hand pretty good," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He threw some good pitches."
An All-Star as a starter two years ago, Chacon struggled miserably after Colorado tried to convert him to closer last year. Now, he's a starter again, joining a young rotation that also includes Jason Jennings, Joe Kennedy and top prospect Jeff Francis.
Chacon pitched poorly in his first outing this spring - three runs in two innings - and then missed three starts because of a strained hamstring, putting his spot in the rotation at least a little in doubt. He didn't seem bothered by the layoff, allowing only a second-inning single.
The right-hander worked quickly and was effective at busting his fastball in on the hands of Chicago's hitters, setting up his breaking pitches away in the later innings. He jammed at least five of the 13 hitters he faced and had a couple others reaching for pitches.
Chacon left after 51 pitches and approached pitching coach Bob Apodaca about staying in, though he didn't get far.
"I kind of lobbied to get out there another inning, but that was all they wanted from me and I accomplished that, so leave it at that," said Chacon, expected to pitch again in Colorado's final spring game Thursday. "I don't want to beg to go out there and get shelled or get hurt again, so I didn't argue too much."
Clint Barmes hit a three-run homer in Colorado's five-run fifth inning off Maddux, helping the Rockies overcome a shaky outing by their bullpen.
Seattle also got an encouraging outing from a key starter. Joel Pineiro threw three shutout innings in his return from a stiff shoulder, and the Mariners defeated the Kansas City Royals 8-3 in Surprise, Ariz.
Pineiro, who had not pitched in a big league spring training game since March 4, gave up two singles, walked one and struck out four. He threw two scoreless innings in a minor league game on Monday.
In other games Saturday:
Yankees 5, Twins 3
At Fort Myers, Fla., Mike Mussina and Johan Santana locked up in a tight duel.
In a rematch of Game 1 of last year's AL division series, Mussina allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for New York. He struck out four.
Santana was nearly as sharp, scattering three hits over 52/3 innings and striking out six, but John Flaherty's three-run homer off C.J. Nitkowski proved to be the difference.
Indians 7, Tigers 4
At Lakeland, Fla., Ryan Ludwick and Josh Bard homered to lead Cleveland.
Devil Rays 4, Red Sox 0
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Jorge Sosa pitched four perfect innings for Tampa Bay. Boston starter Bronson Arroyo allowed four runs and eight hits in 51/3 innings.
Reds 9, Blue Jays 3
At Sarasota, Fla., Joe Randa had three hits off Toronto starter Josh Towers, who got rocked for 14 hits and seven runs in 41/3 innings. Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer.
Ken Griffey Jr. made his fourth appearance in center field for the Reds, who are taking it slow with his surgically repaired hamstring. He had an infield single in four at-bats.
Orioles 7, Marlins 3, 7½ innings
At Jupiter, Fla., Jay Gibbons had two hits and two RBIs for Baltimore.
The game was delayed by rain for 2 hours, 50 minutes, and the Orioles used all six pitchers they brought. They had no pitchers left to send out for the bottom of the eighth.
Baltimore scored five runs off Florida closer Guillermo Mota in the seventh. Marlins starter Josh Beckett struck out three in two perfect innings.
Pirates 9, Phillies 7
At Bradenton, Fla., Phillies rookie Gavin Floyd, impressive in camp until now, yielded Jose Castillo's three-run homer while giving up eight runs and nine hits in three innings.
Backup catcher Humberto Cota hit two solo homers and Ty Wigginton had a three-run shot for the Pirates, who lead the NL with 34 homers this spring - a surprising development for a team that was only 12th in the league last season.
The Pirates also chose left-hander Dave Williams as their No. 5 starter.
Athletics 6, Angels 2
At Tempe, Ariz., Kirk Saarloos boosted his bid for a spot in Oakland's revamped rotation, allowing only two hits in five scoreless innings. Angels ace Bartolo Colon allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits in 62/3 innings.
Rangers 7, White Sox 2
At Tucson, Ariz., Ryan Drese pitched six strong innings. Hank Blalock homered and drove in three runs for Texas, and Alfonso Soriano doubled twice.
Brewers 8, Giants 3
At Phoenix, Lyle Overbay homered and made two spectacular catches in foul territory. Overbay, batting .400 in 50 spring at-bats, hit a two-run shot off Kirk Rueter.
Carlos Lee hit his sixth homer of the spring for Milwaukee and added a two-run double. Brewers starter Chris Capuano allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. He has given up just three runs in 18 innings this spring.
D'backs 11, Padres 2
At Peoria, Ariz., Troy Glaus homered, doubled and drove in five runs, and Arizona scored eight times in the first inning. Russ Ortiz was sharp, allowing one run and four hits in six innings.
Glaus is batting .419 this spring and leads National League players with 22 RBIs.
San Diego left-hander Darrell May gave up eight runs and nine hits in just two-thirds of an inning. The loss could hurt his chances of becoming the Padres' No. 5 starter.
Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.