In a series filled with strange plays and miscues, it was fitting another blunder by the Colorado Rockies helped the Milwaukee Brewers hold on for a 6-5 victory Sunday to complete their first sweep at Coors Field since 2004.
Leading off the top of the ninth inning, Rockies left fielder Corey Dickerson just missed a home run off Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez. The ball hit so hard off the wall in right-center field that it nearly bounced back to the infield.
Carlos Gomez picked up the baseball and fired to try and get Dickerson at third, but his throw was so far up the line that it got away from third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Dickerson hesitated before eventually trying for home, tripping along the way. That allowed Ramirez to toss the ball to Jonathan Lucroy for an easy out at the plate.
Dickerson’s stumble proved costly when Wilin Rosario followed with a home run that would have tied the game. Instead, the Rockies catcher only cut the deficit to 6-5. Rodriguez recovered to get the final two outs to end the game.
"It’s a weird play," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It’s a play where it is kind of hard to get guys in line where they need to be. I’m OK with (Gomez) coming and throwing. Frankie sprains his ankle so he is not behind. If he’s behind, we’re OK."
Rosario’s home run would have tied the game if it weren’t for an important insurance run added by the Brewers in the top of the ninth. Lyle Overbay took Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino deep for a pinch-hit, solo home run, Milwaukee’s first homer off the bench of the season.
"I know he’s a fastball-slider guy," Overbay said. "He was trying to get ahead with the fastball and get a ground ball when he got ahead of me. I fouled the one off at 2-2. He missed his spot; it was a good one to hit. With two strikes you’re just looking for anything and obviously, hanging that slider, that’s not where he wanted it. I got enough barrel on it to get it out of there."
After scoring five runs in the first five innings Sunday, the Brewers struggled to separate themselves from the Rockies despite having numerous chances. Milwaukee had runners at second and third with no outs and the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning and couldn’t score. A throwing error put the leadoff hitter at second with nobody out in the seventh, but the Brewers didn’t plate him.
In a ballpark like Coors Field, it felt like the Brewers were going to look back at their missed opportunities at the end of the afternoon.
"We had a chance to open up the game and didn’t get the at-bats we needed there," Roenicke said. "We scrambled and got enough. Big home run by Lyle. We haven’t had a pinch-hit home run in I don’t know how long. I know we haven’t this year. It has been a long time. That was huge. I’m glad to get home, put it that way."
The Brewers jumped out to an early lead off Rockies starter Tyler Matzek on Sunday, as Aramis Ramirez put Milwaukee up 2-0 with a two-run shot in the second inning. A pair of singles and a walk then loaded the bases with nobody out, but the Brewers scored just one more run, as Kyle Lohse hit into a double play and Rickie Weeks popped out.
After Colorado tied the game at 3 against Lohse in the third, the Brewers benefited from yet another defensive miscue from the Rockies. With two outs and runners at first and second, Lucroy slapped a single into right-center field. Both runners were running on the pitch, allowing Weeks to score easily. Braun, who was on first base at the start of the play, had to go back and touch second base after originally missing the bag. That caused Lucroy to get caught in a rundown between first and second, leading to Braun taking off for the plate. Instead of tagging Braun out, Rosario threw the ball to second to get Lucroy. Braun scored before the out was recorded, putting the Brewers up 5-3.
"It definitely would have been close," Braun said. "I haven’t watched the replay, but I felt like it definitely would have been close. I didn’t anticipate when I took off for home there not being a play, I’ll put it that way. At the very least it would have been a very close play. I couldn’t tell exactly when it got there. Maybe the throw took him that way; I’m not sure. I certainly anticipated it being a close play."
Without his best stuff or command, Lohse battled through five innings to pick up his ninth win of the season. Lohse would have went back out for the sixth inning, but Roenicke opted to pinch hit for the right-hander with the bases loaded and two outs.
"My last two starts have been at probably my least two favorite parks to pitch in, and I survived," Lohse said of pitching in Arizona and Colorado. "I’m glad we only go to these two places once each. It’s a good feeling to come out of it playing the way we have on the road. The guys picked me up and played some really good defense and put up enough runs to win."
By finishing the three-game sweep of the Rockies, the Brewers finished a seven-game road trip to Arizona and Colorado — two places they have historically struggled in — at 6-1. Milwaukee also wrapped up a stretch of 15 of 18 games on the road with a 12-6 record, going 11-4 in the 15 road games.
The Brewers hit .296 as a team on the seven-game road trip and averaged 7.3 runs per game against the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
"A lot of things that I’ve never seen before happened," Overbay said of the series in Colorado. "Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see something like that (in the ninth). Lady Luck was on our side this series. We can’t take that for granted."
Braun injures ankle: Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun was removed from Sunday’s game prior to the bottom of the ninth inning after rolling his right ankle earlier in the game.
While Roenicke expressed concern over his right fielder’s availability for Monday’s game against Washington, Braun is confident he will play.
"I’ll be OK," Braun said. "I was OK to play today. It was not my choice (to come out). But I’ll be fine."
Francisco Rodriguez rolled his left ankle Sunday, as he suffered the injury on the leadoff triple in the ninth inning. Milwaukee’s closer stayed in the game to pick up the 312th save of his career, tying him with Francisco Cordero for 13th on the all-time saves list.