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Brothers returns to closer role eyeing repeat results

DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers excelled when pressed into closer duty earlier this season and is being asked to fill the role again.

Rafael Betancourt underwent an emergency appendectomy Friday, which means Brothers returns to the role with the Rockies' closer again on the disabled list. The first time, when Betancourt was dealing with a right groin strain, Brothers earned four saves in five chances, plus a win, and did not give up a run in 14 innings.

It was part of a 30-innings scoreless streak that covered 32 games. He hasn't been quite as dominant in nine games since. He gave up runs in three of them, including one in a 3-1 loss to the Cubs on Friday, when he walked a batter with one out in the ninth and gave up Darwin Barney's RBI double.

Brothers has a tendency to struggle with early hitters, but grow in effectiveness as his inning continues.

"Sometimes a couple pitches get out of whack, but that's just part of the learning curve," Brothers said. "When I was a starter, too, if you didn't get me in the first inning, you didn't get me. I don't know how that's translated into being a reliever. I just need to find out what level I need to be at that day to get the job done."

Brothers' command issues early in innings were worse early in his career. He had a maximum-effort motion, but during a brief demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, he put his effort level on a scale of 1-10 and figured that on most days, with medium effort, he could throw just as hard with greater command. It sometimes still takes a few pitches to find the level he needs.

"I'm continuing to stay cognizant of things and make adjustments," Brothers said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
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