By: Thomas Harding
MILWAUKEE (MLB.com) — Crushing baseballs could go only so far for the Rockies. In the seventh inning Tuesday night, they figured they could score without jaw-dropping home runs.
Troy Tulowitzki, who homered earlier, broke a tie with a sacrifice fly, and soft singles from Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton gave the Rockies the lead en route to an 8-4 victory at Miller Park in front of 24,753 for manager Walt Weiss’ first win.
Cuddyer went 3-for-5 and made the defensive play of the game — a diving catch of Alex Gonzalez’s eighth-inning line drive, after which he leaped to double Jonathan Lucroy off second.
The Rockies scored all of their runs in Monday’s opener on homers by Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, yet lost in 10 innings, 5-4. The pair of heart-of-the-order sluggers went deep again Tuesday — Tulowitzki with two out and nobody on in the third, Gonzalez after a Josh Rutledge infield single in the fifth, both off Marco Estrada. Yet those runs and another in the second on Chris Nelson’s single merely were enough to have the Rockies in a 4-4 tie.
Going into the top of the seventh, the Rockies had nine hits but also had struck out 11 times — after fanning eight times in the final five innings Monday — and were making the least of their scoring opportunities.
But Dexter Fowler walked, Rutledge bunted for a hit and Gonzalez ended up with a single when Brewers first baseman Alex Gonzalez had to dodge shards of a broken bat just to stop the grounder. It all came against losing pitcher Michael Gonzalez (0-1), who watched while Burke Badenhop dealt with the Rockies winning the game softly, starting with Tulowitzki’s fly at the end of a seven-pitch at-bat.
Rutledge added a run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly off Tom Gorzelanny, in an inning much like the previous one. Yorvit Torrealba walked to lead it off and Reid Brignac bunted for a single. The late-innings offense made Weiss’ unusual but statistically sound pitching move pay off.
Rockies lefty starter Jorge De La Rosa gave up two runs on three hits, including doubles by Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez, in the second. Ryan Braun swatted an opposite-field, two-run homer in the third. The hit made Braun 8-for-11 with two homers and nine RBIs career against De La Rosa.
Once De La Rosa walked Rickie Weeks to bring up Braun with one out in the fifth, Weiss went to Edgmer Escalona (1-0), who worked Braun into a fly to right to begin his scoreless 1 2/3 innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout. It was Escalona’s first Major League win.