Crew survives late scare, staves off Rox for sweep
Aramis, Overbay go deep while Rodriguez holds on for 25th save
DENVER -- On a getaway day, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke expressed his hope for the first short, stress-free game in what had been a high-scoring series against the Rockies.
He didn't get anything close to that, but what he did get was his 300th win as manager of the Brewers with Milwaukee holding on for a 6-5 win to complete the sweep at Coors Field on Sunday.
"We scrambled and got enough," said Roenicke. "There were some plays we didn't make the right way. If we're going to continue to win, we've got to play a little cleaner baseball."
Roenicke wasn't even sure he made the right call in the eighth inning after left-hander Will Smith was scored upon for only the fifth time in 30 2/3 innings.
Drew Stubbs RBI triple cut it to 5-4 with two outs. That's when Roenicke decided to intentionally walk Troy Tulowitzki to put runners on the corners for Justin Morneau. Morneau already had seven RBIs in the series, but Smith was able to induce a soft grounder from Morneau to end the threat.
"I still don't know whether that was the right way to do it," said Roenicke. "Morneau is not that bad against lefties … Either way was not comfortable. It just worked out."
An inning later to lead off the ninth, Lyle Overbay hit the first pinch-hit home run of the Brewers' season. That extra breathing room proved to be crucial even with the Brewers catching their umpteenth break of the series as Francisco Rodriguez came on to close out things.
Corey Dickerson began the bottom of the ninth with an easy triple thanks to an advantageous bounce off the right-field wall on a ball that just missed leaving the park. Carlos Gomez's ensuing throw to third missed wide, ricocheting off the visiting dugout. Dickerson hesitated before finally taking the opportunity to go for home. But just a few steps in, he stumbled and collapsed, presenting Aramis Ramirez with plenty of time to scoop up the loose ball and throw home to Lucroy for the out.
"If I [wouldn't] have just run in, I would have walked in, basically because the ball was so far off," said Dickerson. "But my legs completely gave out. I couldn't feel them, and I fell down. I was caught after that."
In the following at-bat, Wilin Rosario touched four the easy way, sending a solo shot over the center-field fence to haunt the Rockies with what could have been.
"I guess when you're good things go good," said Ramirez. "If [Dickerson] doesn't fall, Rosario hits that home run to tie it up. We'll take it anyway we can."
Rodriguez wasn't able to cover Gomez's wayward throw because he felt "a pinch" in his left ankle after planting awkwardly on the side of the mound on the pitch to Dickerson. He was checked out on the mound and stayed in the game, ultimately electing not to throw a warmup with the hopes that he could get out of the inning before the pain returned.
Even after Rosario blasted his third RBI of the game, Rodriguez wasn't rattled.
"At that point, a solo shot isn't going to hurt me because we're up by two," said Rodriguez. "The last thing I want to do is walk a guy. So I'm going to challenge … I still have one run to play with."
Rodriguez regrouped, going off-speed to strike out Ryan Wheeler before slowing it down again to get a game-ending groundout from Charlie Culberson for his Major League-best 25th save.
The final deficit of one run was all the more painful for the Rockies considering the events of the fifth inning.
With the score knotted at 3, Jonathan Lucroy broke through with a two-out single, scoring Rickie Weeks. Lucroy then decided to take an aggressive turn toward second after Charlie Blackmon targeted Ryan Braun on third from right field.
The Rockies immediately took notice, catching Lucroy in a rundown. But Braun, who would later suffer a minor sprained ankle in the field in eighth, wouldn't waste the distraction and took off from third. Morneau's heads-up throw to catcher Rosario seemed to be in enough time for the out, but Rosario didn't attempt a swipe at a sliding Braun.
"I saw the video and I know I really had time to tag at home plate," said Rosario postgame. "But I didn't pick up the runner. Every time I [receive] the ball, I never put my eyes on the runner. I think that's why I didn't recognize how far he was from home plate."
Rosario's throw back to Tulowitzki at second was in plenty of time to get Lucroy for the final out, but not before the Brewers had formed a 5-3 lead.
"[Lucroy] would have been out by a lot, so it worked out where he stayed in it enough where Brauny could get a jump," said Roenicke.
Kyle Lohse (9-2) hung in long enough for the win, but wasn't efficient, lasting just five innings with seven hits and three walks resulting in three earned runs.
"It's always hard here," said Lohse. "I'm a control guy so I need to know where exactly the ball is moving. The elevation is never breaking the way the way you want it to."
Rockies left-hander Tyler Matzek (1-2) didn't fare much better, finishing his day with seven hits, four walks and five runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings. Ramirez began the damage against Matzek with a two-run shot in the second inning in his first at-bat after being removed late from Saturday's game with back tightness. Ramirez finished the series 8-for-13 with seven RBIs, five runs, three doubles and home runs in back-to-back games to close it out.
As well as he swung the bat, Ramirez knows it came down to the Brewers taking full advantage of the series full of mistakes and bad luck on the Rockies' end.
"It's a long season," said Ramirez. "You need those breaks sometimes. You're not always going outslug the other team."