DENVER -- Ryan Theriot has bounced back and forth from the minors and spent most of his time in the majors in the dugout, waiting for an opportunity.
The rookie infielder got his chance against Colorado on Sunday and made the most of it.
"You've got to be ready," Theriot said after his first career pinch hit. "Obviously, your approach is a little bit different when you're starting. It's different than playing on a daily basis. I wouldn't say it's easy, but you've got to have the mind-set of staying in the game throughout the game."
Aramis Ramirez hit his 28th homer, Cesar Izturis had a two-run single and the Cubs rallied against Colorado's bullpen to avoid their first sweep at Coors Field since dropping four straight July 24-27, 1997.
That Chicago even had a shot at it was impressive. Carlos Marmol walked eight -- the most by a Cubs pitcher since Kerry Wood walked eight on Sept. 22, 2000 -- and Robert Novoa two more, leading to four runs for the Rockies.
It's not surprising considering Chicago leads the league with 499 walks on the season, but it's not often that a team issues 10 free passes and still finds a way to win.
"It's a tough game to swallow," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Colorado seemed to be in a good position to get its third straight win. Garrett Atkins hit a grand slam in the third inning after Chicago scored four off Byung-Hyun Kim and the Rockies added runs in the fifth and sixth to go up 7-4.
But the Rockies' bullpen, which had allowed one earned run the previous eight home games, couldn't hold the lead.
Tom Martin gave up a run in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Angel Pagan tripled and scored on Juan Pierre's groundout to make it 7-5, then Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Manuel Corpas (0-1).
Theriot went up looking for a fastball and got one, lining a double down the left-field line to put Chicago up 8-7. Two of the runs were charged to Corpas, who had his scoreless streak end at nine innings.
"I threw the balls wrong. I didn't know when it was going to go good or going to go bad," Corpas said through an interpreter.
Novoa (2-0) gave up a run and two hits in two innings to pick up the win and Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth to convert his 11th straight save opportunity and his 23rd in 28 chances overall.
It was a nice way to end a strange weekend in Denver for the Cubs, who had lost the first two games despite getting at least 10 hits in each.
"It's a funny game, boy," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We kept battling and battling, and got some key hits. It was a big game for us."
Marmol has had trouble with walks this season -- 36 in 35 2/3 innings in his previous eight starts -- and missing the strike zone hurt him again in this one.
The rookie right-hander led off the second inning by walking Matt Holliday, who later scored on Ryan Spilborghs' single up the middle. Marmol gave up two singles to start the third, walked Todd Helton to load the bases, then fell behind 3-and-1 to set up Atkins' third career grand slam, a 433-foot shot to left-center that put Colorado up 5-4.
Marmol walked three more in the fifth, including two with two outs that set up Yorvit Torrealba's RBI single that pushed Colorado's lead to 6-4. Marmol yielded five hits and six runs in six innings.
But Marmol wasn't the only Cubs pitcher having trouble with his control; Novoa issued a pair of two-out walks in the sixth inning, leading to an RBI single by Holliday that put Colorado up 7-4.
With Mark Prior and Wood on the DL and Greg Maddux traded to the Dodgers, the Cubs have been forced to rely on a group of inexperienced pitchers who haven't quite mastered the strike zone like the veterans they replaced.
"We're just going to have to live with it with all of them," Baker said.
Kim didn't give up a hit until Marmol lined a single to right with one out in the third, then Pierre hit a ground-rule double to center. Izturis knocked them both in with a single and Ramirez followed with a two-run homer that put the Cubs up 4-1.
Kim allowed a baserunner in every inning except the second, but minimized the damage, allowing four runs -- equaling his total in 21 2/3 innings over his previous three starts -- and seven hits. He struck out five.
"I thought he was grinding," Hurdle said. "Our bullpen has been rolling so I thought he gave us a good effort to get point in the game that he did."
Helton has struck out in nine straight games after having none the previous 11 games. ... Chicago has homered in eight straight games for the first time since doing it in 12 straight last Sept. 8-20.