Cubs left-hander Travis Wood has been beaten by his own command issues all season long. The only thing that could beat Rockies left-hander Brett Anderson in his most recent start was a blister on his index finger.
Wood needed 66 pitches to get through the first two innings of his most recent start, against the Cardinals. He ended up going five, but he gave up five runs (two earned) and two home runs in a no-decision.
Anderson, on the other hand, held the Pirates to just two hits over 6 1/3 innings before being pulled due to the blister. Even though he walked four and only struck out one, he used his defense in shutting down the Pirates to earn his first victory.
"I was down in the zone, my stuff was getting crisper -- better and better -- and my velocity is coming back," said Anderson, who missed three months with a broken finger.
Wood hasn't been on the winning end since June 15, and he has only one quality start in seven opportunities since then.
Wood is averaging 3.9 walks per nine innings, and earlier this month, pitching coach Chris Bosio spoke about his struggles.
"I think it's a command thing for Travis," Bosio said. "He's getting in hitters' counts and doesn't have the command he had last year. We talk about it a lot as a staff -- try to find out what's working and what's not working. Unfortunately for Travis right now, he shows flashes, and the next thing you know, he'll walk a guy."
Rockies: Justin Morneau provides boost in return
Although Justin Morneau missed just the minimum amount of time on the disabled list with his neck injury, the Rockies missed his bat dearly over those 15 days.
In the 10 games Morneau missed, the Rockies averaged 4.1 runs per game. That doesn't sound too bad until you consider the Rockies played six of the games at home, where they average a Major League-high 5.7 runs per game.
Of course, the Rockies are also missing Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer, but in his first game back, Morneau made his presence felt by finishing 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
Morneau said his neck feels better than it has all season, and Monday's MRI confirmed that he won't need to repeat the neck surgery he underwent in 2011 to remove a herniated disk fragment.
"That was good news, to see that in some ways my spine is actually better," said Morneau prior to his first game since before the All-Star break. "Hopefully, it continues to get better."
Cubs: Starlin Castro's starting streak in jeopardy with slump
Shortstop Starlin Castro made it a goal to start every game this season, and so far he's on pace, but if he doesn't reverse his struggles at the plate soon, manager Rick Renteria may have no choice but to give him a day off.
Entering Tuesday, Castro was batting .225 with four doubles, seven RBIs and zero home runs in July. He finished the night as the hero, though, plating the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 16th.
Despite the slump, Renteria appreciates Castro's offensive approach.
"Even though the results haven't been what he was doing previous, his at-bats have still been pretty good," Renteria said.
Castro has made it a point to avoid a day off any way possible.
"I spoke to him yesterday, and said, 'Hey, maybe I'm thinking about giving you a day off,' and he went out and took out a half-hour of ground balls like it was the end of time," Renteria said. "[When he was done], he said, 'Do I look tired?' He wants to play every day."
And if the time comes that Renteria decides it's in Castro's best interest to rest, he'll sit down with him first.
"He deserves the courtesy of me talking to him and saying, 'Let's get together and talk about what might be a good day if there's a day,'" Renteria said. "We'll sit down and talk about it."
• Along with Morneau, the Rockies activated left-hander Boone Logan (diverticulitis) from the 15-day DL on Tuesday.
They also recalled shortstop Cristhian Adames from Triple-A Colorado Springs and optioned right-handers Chad Bettis and Brooks Brown, and first baseman Ben Paulsen.
• The Cubs placed right-hander Neil Ramirez on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with a sore right triceps.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.