DENVER -- Jesus Aguilar powered the Brewers to a winning start to their critical western road trip.After hitting a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning Saturday night, Aguilar cleared the fences twice more on Sunday afternoon to lead the Brewers to an 8-4 win and a series victory over
DENVER -- Jesus Aguilar powered the Brewers to a winning start to their critical western road trip.
After hitting a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning Saturday night, Aguilar cleared the fences twice more on Sunday afternoon to lead the Brewers to an 8-4 win and a series victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.
Chase Anderson grinded through five innings in his return from the disabled list, and the Brewers backed him by scoring in every inning from the fifth inning on to keep pace in the NL Central with the Cubs, who maintained a two-game division lead after stunning the Blue Jays with a walk-off at Wrigley Field.
• Anderson's return gives Crew a boost
The Brewers did gain a game in the Wild Card race, where they are within 2 1/2 games of the D-backs for the second spot.
• Wild Card standings
Aguilar went deep three times in a span of five plate appearances, from his homer off Rockies closer Greg Holland in the ninth inning Saturday to his first-inning solo home run and sixth-inning two-run shot on Sunday. He was sad to leave Coors Field.
"I love it," Aguilar said -- but it was on to San Francisco for the Brewers.
"It's all about confidence," he said. "Starting the road trip with a series win is a boost of energy for the club and it gives us a lot of confidence. We're just happy we were able to get it done."
The Rockies wrapped up their homestand on a losing note, but stayed one game in front of the D-backs for the top Wild Card spot. Seven games ahead of the pack on Aug. 9, the Rockies now have just a 3 1/2-game cushion for a playoff spot.
"This was a great opportunity for us to jump ahead. It didn't happen," said Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who went 3-for-4. "But the good thing is -- or, I don't know if it's a good thing -- at least teams like the D-backs got swept too. We ended up winning one game out of three, not the way you want to play at home, but it is what it is. We're still in there."
Mark Reynolds drove in three runs -- with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, a solo home run in the eighth and an RBI single in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
E-1 to rule them all: The teams played a tight game early, but the Brewers took the lead for good in the fifth. With Orlando Arcia on third and one out, Jonathan Villar dribbled a ball back to pitcher Kyle Freeland. Arcia held at third, but Freeland bobbled the ball for an error, giving Villar enough time to beat out his throw. Arcia would score on Ryan Braun's sacrifice fly two batters later. Freeland got out of the rest of the inning unscathed, but his error led to the go-ahead run.
No buck for the bang: The Rockies stranded multiple runners on base in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings on the way to going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The seventh-inning threat began with a notable out in front of first base, where 5-foot-6, 158-pound Alexi Amarista collided with the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Aguilar after Amarista's comebacker caromed off Brewers reliever Oliver Drake. Amarista was ruled out, and Black couldn't demand a replay because he'd already lost his challenge back in the third.
"I think he was out," said Black. "According to our video guy, out on the tag. It was a really bad break, with the ball going off the pitcher and goes right to the first baseman. The guy has all the right to come and get the ball and make the play. Alexi tried to avoid the tag and he couldn't. The umpire was gonna call him out anyway for being out of the baseline. Just a wacky play." More >>
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday marked the first time the Rockies have lost consecutive games at home since June 21-22 vs. the D-backs. The Rockies have 18 games remaining at Coors Field and 20 games left on the road.
When the Brewers called upon closer Corey Knebel to extinguish Colorado's two-out rally in the ninth, it gave Knebel an opportunity to set Milwaukee's franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever. His game-ending whiff of pinch-hitter Mike Tauchman gave Knebel 99 strikeouts, eclipsing the record held by Julio Machado since 1991.
"That's how it is here," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of using Knebel in an inning that began with a 8-2 lead. "It's 27 outs and the score doesn't matter, and you feel like it's hard to get them."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rockies lost their challenge in the third inning, when there wasn't enough evidence to overturn Charlie Blackmon's caught stealing at second base. Blackmon believed he got his foot to the bag before Brewers shortstop Arcia could apply the tag, but there was no definitive replay.
In the seventh, the Brewers won a huge challenge on Travis Shaw's grounder into the Rockies' defensive shift. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu fielded the ball in shallow right field and threw Shaw out, according to the call from umpire Nic Lentz. The Brewers challenged and won, extending the inning for Tyler Chatwood to take over and surrender Aguilar's second homer of the afternoon.
"That was big," said Counsell. "We get a reliever in there, and then [Aguilar] hits the first pitch out of there. He drove the bus again today. Two days in a row."
Brewers: The Brewers' long trip rolls on to San Francisco, where Zach Davies starts Monday's 9:15 p.m. CT opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park. Davies has had his troubles this season, but they have mostly come at home. In 12 starts on the road, he's 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA.
Rockies: The Rockies have Monday off before starting a three-game series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday. Jon Gray (5-2, 4.74 ERA) takes the mound at 6:15 p.m. MT. Closer Greg Holland makes his return to Kansas City, where he saved 145 games for the Royals from 2011 to 2015.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.