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Colorado Rockies pitcher Germán Márquez breaks out with dominant performance against Cubs

The 22-year-old right-hander pitched eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win over Chicago.

DENVER — Colorado Rockies pitcher Germán Márquez announced his presence with authority with a dominant performance in a 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs Wednesday at Coors Field.

“When my fastball is located, everything is good,” Marquez said.

Márquez pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out eight. He threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

“I think you saw life to the fastball, the breaking ball was consistent all game long,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.

The fastball that topped out at 98 mph was Márquez’s bread and butter throughout the game, and he supplemented it with a curveball that dipped as low as 76 on the radar gun and induced seven swings and misses. Márquez also added in a few changeups and sliders along the way.

“Guys have to respect 95,” Rockies catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “When you’re able to get ahead with a curveball, then they’re kind of in between and that’s what we wanted.”

With the Rockies leading 1-0 and with Márquez’s no-hit bid still intact in the sixth, Rockies right fielder Carlos González made a spectacular diving catch on a sinking liner from Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, preventing extra bases and keeping the no-no alive.

“Great catch, right?” Black said. “He’s been playing great defensively.”

Hanigan, a 36-year-old who has caught two no-hitters in his big league career, said that a third wasn’t on his mind quite yet when González made his catch in the sixth.

“I don’t worry about that until we get into about the eighth inning, we’re just trying to win the game,” Hanigan said.

Márquez, on the other hand, said a possible no-hitter had crossed his mind by that point in the game.

“I thought about a no-hitter (starting in) about the fifth,” Márquez said.

Márquez’s no-hit bid ended in the seventh when Kris Bryant led off the inning by lining a 2-0 changeup from Márquez into left field for a double. He did not get past second, however, as Marquez got two ground ball outs sandwiched around a strikeout of Jeimer Candelario to get out of the inning with a 1-0 lead.

“That was big,” Black said. “Watching Germán and watching his actions led me to believe that there were still a lot of outs left in his arm, he was in a good spot mentally, that didn’t bother him, he was fine.”

Perhaps the biggest moment of the game came in the bottom of the seventh. With men on second and third and two outs, Black elected to let Márquez bat for himself against Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr., who had been dominant early in the season.

“I thought Márquez had a good chance to put up a zero in the eighth inning the way he was throwing the baseball,” Black said. “I thought the zero was more important than the odds against a pinch hit against a guy with a 0.64 ERA, who has given up four hits in 14 innings.”

Márquez came through at the plate, knocking an 0-2 offering from Edwards Jr. into left field for his first career hit and RBIs, his two-run single giving the Rockies a 3-0 lead.

“I didn’t look at that pitch, just swung,” Márquez said.

Black’s faith in Márquez was rewarded in the eighth, as the rookie stranded a pair of Cubs in scoring position after giving up back-to-back singles. Greg Holland then entered the game in the ninth, retiring the Cubs in order to earn his 14th save of the season.

“That’s how you draw it up,” Hanigan said. “Get him through eight, get to your closer, game over.”

The win gave the Rockies their fourth straight series victory and brought their record to 22-13, which represents the best 35-game start in franchise history. They have a 1 12 game lead in the NL West over the Dodgers, who come to Coors Field Thursday to begin a four-game series. The series against Los Angeles will be another test for the Rockies, and it begins with Tyler Anderson looking for a repeat of his last start against the Diamondbacks as he takes on Hyun-jin Ryu.