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Good in a pinch: Aguilar's homer tops Rox

MLB.com

DENVER -- Late-game heroics from Jesus Aguilar saved the Brewers from falling further behind in the NL Central race Saturday.

Pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot in the top of the ninth, Aguilar crushed a two-out, full-count breaking ball from Rockies closer Greg Holland to straightaway center for a tiebreaking homer that propelled the Brewers to a 6-3 win. The victory helped the Brewers stay two games behind the first-place Cubs while also leapfrogging the Cardinals into second place.

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DENVER -- Late-game heroics from Jesus Aguilar saved the Brewers from falling further behind in the NL Central race Saturday.

Pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot in the top of the ninth, Aguilar crushed a two-out, full-count breaking ball from Rockies closer Greg Holland to straightaway center for a tiebreaking homer that propelled the Brewers to a 6-3 win. The victory helped the Brewers stay two games behind the first-place Cubs while also leapfrogging the Cardinals into second place.

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The Rockies, meanwhile, stayed a game in front of the D-backs for the top Wild Card spot in the NL after Arizona fell to the Twins.

"The last road trip was a little negative for us, and this trip we're all trying to be positive," said Aguilar of the Brewers' big trip to Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. "We know every game is important, and these guys [the Rockies] are our rival, too. We're fighting them for the Wild Card and every game counts."

The Brewers built an early 3-0 lead but had only two baserunners from the fourth inning through the eighth before Holland hit Keon Broxton with a pitch in the ninth to spark the winning rally. With two outs and Broxton at second, Aguilar saw six straight sliders, hitting the sixth 446 feet for his third pinch-hit homer this season, tied for most in the Majors.

"He's come through in the big spots," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I'll give 'Murph' [bench coach Pat Murphy] a lot of credit because the debate was [Eric] Sogard or Jesús right there, and we thought the breaking ball was going to come and Jesús was eventually going to get a breaking ball he could hit."

Neil Walker added an RBI single for insurance against Holland, who has given up nine runs over his last five appearances to raise his ERA from 1.56 to 3.22. He feels he hasn't been on top of his execution of late, rather than something is mechanically off.

Video: MIL@COL: Walker singles home Thames in the 9th

"Too many dumb mistakes here recently," Holland said. "I've never been a guy that really worries about his mechanics, but my percentage of executed, quality pitches hasn't been what I expect out of myself."

Betts sharp in second start back

Rockies starter Chad Bettis pitched well in his second start following his recovery from testicular cancer. Bettis navigated through seven innings, giving up three runs on 92 pitches.

Woodruff contiues to impress Brewers

Brewers rookie Brandon Woodruff only gave up one run in 4 2/3 innings before Counsell went to his bullpen with a 3-1 lead. He even collected his first two Major League hits.

Video: MIL@COL: Woodruff singles to record first career hit

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Gonna roll it: Bettis only suffered from one poor inning, giving up three runs in the third. After Woodruff led off with a single for his first Major League hit, Eric Thames hit a bouncing line drive to the left of Blackmon. The ball bounced under center fielder Charlie Blackmon's glove as he tried to cut it off and it rolled to the wall for an RBI triple. The inning snowballed from there, with Ryan Braun driving in Thames on a sacrifice fly and Travis Shaw cranking a solo home run to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.

"The changeup was really effective his last start, but tonight [Bettis] had to pitch a little bit more," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Lot more curveballs, lot more slider-cutters, occasional change."

Video: MIL@COL: Shaw cranks a solo homer in the 3rd

Gonna steal it: Blackmon proved pivotal in the Rockies' tying, two-run rally against Brewers relievers Josh Hader and Jacob Barnes in the seventh. After driving in Trevor Story with a one-out RBI single off Hader, Blackmon stole second, putting himself in scoring position for DJ LeMahieu against Barnes. A couple pitches later, LeMahieu singled him home to knot the game at 3-3. Both of the Rockies runs in the inning were charged to Hader, marking the first time in his first 19 Major League appearances that he was charged with multiple runs.

"Their whole lineup is unbelievable, but those first three guys, I mean, that is an absolute battle every time they come around," said Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt of the Blackmon-LeMahieu-Nolan Arenado gauntlet. "They grind at-bats out together. They know their ballpark, and they use all of it."

Video: MIL@COL: LeMahieu ties the game with a single

QUOTABLE

"I threw him a few quality pitches at the bottom of the zone that were balls, that he didn't offer at. But 3-2 with first base open -- I know it's a tie game, but you can't throw a hanging slider after he's already seen five," -- Holland, on Aguilar's home run

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Chase Anderson, whose 2.89 ERA ranked sixth among National League starters when he went down with a left oblique injury in late June, will come off the disabled list to start Sunday's 2:10 p.m. CT series finale at Coors Field. Anderson threw 67 pitches in his most recent rehab start, so he will be on a limited pitch count for his return to action.

Rockies: Kyle Freeland takes the hill for the Rockies in Sunday's series finale beginning at 1:10 p.m. MT. Freeland pitched well his last time out, giving up three runs in six innings against the Braves on Tuesday. Sunday will be the rookie's first career start vs. the Brewers.

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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.