Prior notches 20th career double-digit strikeout game

DENVER (AP) -- Mark Prior is concerned about his pitch count. So is his manager.

Prior struck out 10 in six strong innings and then got relief help from Kerry Wood again in the Chicago Cubs' 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday.

"I can't keep going out there and throwing 120 in six innings," Prior said. "I mean, it's fine for a couple starts but I know I need to get deeper into ballgames."

Cubs manager Dusty Baker agreed.

"He wasn't sharp, he threw a lot of pitches," Baker said. "We were hoping he could get us through six. ... He got us there."

Prior (9-4) allowed two runs, five hits and two walks, improving to 4-1 in his last eight starts. He threw 118 pitches and struck out Todd Helton twice in the 20th double-digit strikeout game of his career.

Todd Walker homered and Jeromy Burnitz drove in two runs for the Cubs, who have won three straight.

After Roberto Novoa gave up a run in the seventh, Wood came on and struck out two in a scoreless eighth. He also helped preserve a win for Prior on Sunday night, a 5-4 victory over St. Louis. That was the first time both of Chicago's hard-throwing aces pitched in
the same game.

After coming off the disabled list this month, Wood was moved to the bullpen in an effort to relieve the stress on his troublesome right shoulder.

Ryan Dempster worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save, delighting a crowd of 30,175 that was dominated by Cubs fans.

Burnitz broke out of an 8-for-58 slump by getting three hits. Aramis Ramirez had an RBI single, Henry Blanco added a sacrifice fly and Derrek Lee scored twice for Chicago.

"It's always nice to hit the ball good," Burnitz said. "Especially on a day that's not a typical Coors game."

Jorge Piedra homered and Danny Ardoin had an RBI single for the Rockies, who have lost seven of eight. The Rockies didn't have many opportunities to get to Prior and the three relievers.

"Prior was tough, but everybody we saw from them was tough," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "When you strike out 15 times it makes it difficult to score runs."

Byung-Hyun Kim (3-10) allowed four runs, five hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings.

"He wasn't efficient with his pitches, 103 pitches in less than five innings," Hurdle said. "Two walks in the first inning led to a run and then he gives up a home run to Walker on an 0-2 pitch."

Burnitz gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the first with a two-out bloop single to center. Kim walked Walker and Ramirez before Burnitz singled past second baseman Luis Gonzalez.

The Cubs failed to take advantage of a three-base throwing error by third baseman Garrett Atkins on Corey Patterson's bunt to start the second. Atkins airmailed the throw into the right field corner, but one out later Patterson was thrown out at the plate on Prior's grounder to Gonzalez.

The Rockies tied it in the second on a one-out double by Larry Bigbie and an RBI single by Ardoin.

Blanco hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth for a 2-1 Chicago lead.

The Cubs chased Kim in a two-run fifth inning that featured Walker's ninth homer, a solo shot to right. Lee walked, stole second and scored on Ramirez's single to make it 4-1.

Piedra homered in the fifth, and Gonzalez had an RBI single in the seventh off Novoa to pull Colorado to 4-3.

"I hit it good," Piedra said of his home run. "I'm young and he should think he can throw a fastball by me."

Burnitz added an RBI double in the ninth off Brian Fuentes.

Game notes
The Cubs activated infielder Jerry Hairston from the disabled list and optioned outfielder Matt Murton to Triple-A Iowa. ... Prior had a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth before striking out. ... Helton
batted cleanup for the first time since Sept. 27, 2002, against Arizona. He struck out three times.