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Brewers embrace Anderson's return from DL

Righty allows one run in five innings in finale vs. Rockies
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

DENVER -- The pitching line was not particularly special. Five innings, two hits, one earned run, three walks, four strikeouts and two hit batters.

But the meaning of Chase Anderson's return from the disabled list Sunday went beyond the box score of the Brewers' 8-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. After falling short in trade bids for Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray, this was Milwaukee's opportunity to add an accomplished arm to the starting rotation for a pennant push.

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DENVER -- The pitching line was not particularly special. Five innings, two hits, one earned run, three walks, four strikeouts and two hit batters.

But the meaning of Chase Anderson's return from the disabled list Sunday went beyond the box score of the Brewers' 8-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. After falling short in trade bids for Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray, this was Milwaukee's opportunity to add an accomplished arm to the starting rotation for a pennant push.

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"It's a big piece," manager Craig Counsell said in the calm before the rubber match of a three-game series between postseason hopefuls. "He was pitching as well as he's ever pitched. He was pitching as well as a lot of the aces in the game, really, at that point.

"The key is, can we get him back to that form? I've said this: We're going to have to go on a run to get to the playoffs this year -- .500 is not going to be good enough for the rest of the year. And Chase is going to be a part of that. Him pitching well makes you hopeful that we can."

Anderson threw 73 pitches before Counsell removed him for a pinch-hitter amid a go-ahead rally in the sixth inning. Batting in Anderson's spot, Neil Walker smacked a go-ahead single.

It was Anderson's first Major League outing since June 28 in Cincinnati, when he strained his left oblique swinging the bat. At the time, his 2.89 ERA was good for sixth among National League starters. Now, with the Brewers two games behind the Cubs in the NL Central, Anderson will get an opportunity to make up for lost time.

NL Central standings

"We got the win. That's what matters the most," he said. "The first couple innings, I felt like I was trying to force it and trying to feel out my mechanics. But the last three innings I pitched I felt better, and if my spot hadn't come up I probably would have gone back out there for the sixth inning. I was feeling really good by then."

Anderson's velocity increased with his pitch count, topping out at 95.8 mph, according to Statcast™. A few extra ticks on his fastball were key to Anderson's early-season success, and that pitch was his most important offering in the dry, thin air of Coors Field.

In the first inning, Anderson drew a long glare from former D-backs teammate Gerardo Parra after a hit by pitch loaded the bases with one out, but Anderson limited the damage to one run. In the third, he hit a batter and walked two, but did not yield a run. In the fourth, Anderson worked around Carlos Gonzalez's leadoff double in another scoreless frame.

"He pitched great," said Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw. "I don't think he had his command like he normally does, like he did at the beginning of the year. But he found a way to get outs and get us to where we needed to be. He was our best starter for two and a half months, so that's a big pick-up for us."

Anderson's next start will come at Dodger Stadium against the NL's best team.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Colorado Rockies, Chase Anderson