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On a day that felt more like New Year?s Day than Opening Day, Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly authored something akin to his own winter classic Monday at Wrigley Field.

Taking the mound on a wet and windy 36-degree day, the lefty took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before yielding a hit. Garrett Atkins singled sharply to left field with two outs, but that?s all the Colorado Rockies got as the Cubs shut them down 4-0.

Lilly and three relievers combined on a 1-hitter, and the Cubs won their third in a row to improve to 5-2.

Elements? The people around Lilly marveled at how well he tamed them.

"Lilly really mastered the weather," said manager Lou Piniella.

The man behind the plate was guilty of only a little hyperbole.

"That?s Ted," said catcher Koyie Hill. "He?s up for a challenge. It could have been snowing, sleeting. We could have been playing on top of Mt. Everest. He?d have been all about it. That?s one thing you know you?re going to get out of Ted. You?re going to get everything he?s got, no matter what."

Lilly (2-0), a 17-game winner last year, seemed unaware of both the weather and the no-hit bid. Maybe it?s because he took no-nos into the seventh inning twice last September before they were broken up.

"I felt it was going to be tough, but for the hitters, too," he said. "As a starting pitcher, once you get loose and you kind of keep yourself warm, it?s maybe somewhat of an advantage to pitch in conditions like this.

"I was aware (of the no-hitter) but wasn?t really thinking that. I was still trying to focus on making quality pitches and not so much, ?How am I going to protect that, protect the no-hitter?? I just wanted to make good pitches. I felt if I did that, I like my chances."

With the wind blowing a

mist in over the right-field wall, there wasn?t going to be much in the way of power displays, so the offense had to support Lilly in other ways. They scored a run on a bases-loaded walk to Hill ? Cubs batters drew 9 walks ? off Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the second.

"Ubaldo went out there; he gave everything he had," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "His hands were ice-cold. My mom used to tell me ?cold hands, warm heart.? I don?t know how that played out today. He tried to do the best he could. His delivery was kind of come-and-go, a little bit out of sync."

The Cubs capitalized on a couple of walks, a couple of hits and an error in the fourth. And in the eighth, Kosuke Fukudome singled home Alfonso Soriano, who was bunted to second by Ryan Theriot.

"That was the best bet today," Theriot said of the small-ball approach.

Angel Guzman finished up for Lilly in the seventh. He was followed by Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg. Lilly had to remind himself to savor the victory.

"I feel the thing in my career is to try to enjoy the game as much as possible because I always have a tendency to focus on my next start," he said. "What I need to do is just kind of enjoy these ones for a little bit anyway until I need to get ready for the next one."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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