With their actions at the trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs made apparent that they're looking ahead to next year.
The Colorado Rockies may not want this weekend to end, never mind the season.
The hot-hitting Rockies look to finish off a remarkable three-game sweep of the foundering Cubs on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
Chicago (46-58), which increasingly appears headed for its first losing season since 2006, already knew it would no longer have manager Lou Piniella in 2011. Now, the Cubs also know they'll be without starting pitcher Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot.
The Cubs dealt the veterans to the Dodgers at Saturday's trade deadline, receiving infielder Blake DeWitt and minor league right-handers Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach in exchange. For Chicago, which trails co-leaders St. Louis and Cincinnati by 11 1/2 games in the NL Central, the deal was symbolic of what has been apparent on the field - the Cubs will not contend in 2010.
"I don't think this is how any of us would've drawn it up," Lilly, who won 47 games in 3 1/2 seasons with the club, told the Cubs' official website. "(General manager Jim Hendry) didn't have a lot of choices. We would all prefer to be buyers and to be acquiring pieces but this is what it's come to."
At four games above .500, the Rockies (54-50) are on the fringes of serious playoff contention, but their exploits in the first two games of this series won't soon be forgotten. One night after Colorado scored 12 two-out runs and batted around three times in the fourth inning of a 17-2 rout, Carlos Gonzalez hit for the cycle - completing it in spectacular fashion with a game-ending homer off Sean Marshall in the ninth to give the Rockies a 5-4 win.
"That was unbelievable,'' Gonzalez said. "It was a great feeling. All the crowd screaming, it's a moment you just want to pass out because you don't know what to do. Just try to get with my teammates and celebrate.''
Colorado has 32 runs and 48 hits during its three-game winning streak, which was immediately preceded by an eight-game skid in which the Rockies totaled 17 runs.
Gonzalez and Melvin Mora both went 4 for 4 on Saturday, continuing outstanding series for both players. Gonzalez is 8 for 10 with two homers, four RBIs and five runs scored this weekend, while Mora has hits in all six of his at-bats.
Colorado will send Jorge De La Rosa (3-3, 5.15 ERA) to the mound in a bid to complete the sweep. The left-hander is seeking his first win since returning from a finger injury that sidelined him for more than two months. He's 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts since coming off the DL, though he's limited opponents to four earned runs in 13 innings over his last two outings.
De La Rosa is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in one start and four relief appearances against the Cubs.
Chicago will counter with Carlos Silva (10-4, 3.76), who bounced back from consecutive ugly losses by earning a 5-2 win at Houston on Monday. The right-hander gave up one run over five innings after surrendering 11 in 2 1-3 innings over his previous two starts.
Silva defeated the Rockies at Wrigley Field on May 18, allowing two runs over six innings of a 6-2 victory in his only career start against them.
Mora is 9 for 30 with a homer and a triple off Silva. Gonzalez is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts.