Brewers allow late run, lose to Rockies

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Michael Cuddyer prefers to play every day, so sitting in the dugout isn’t his ideal way to spend the night at the ballpark.

But with a bruised big toe still bothering him to the point where it would hinder his defense, Cuddyer was limited to pinch-hitting duties. In the ninth inning Friday night, he came through in that role.

Cuddyer drove in the go-ahead run in the Colorado Rockies’ 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers despite an inside-the-park homer for Norichika Aoki.

Even on what was supposed to be a night off, Cuddyer impressed his new team.

“It’s nice to get off to a good start, no matter where you are, who you’re with, what team you’re with,” Cuddyer said. “But especially going to a new team, it’s good to get off to a good start. At the same time, we’ve got a long, long, long way to go.”

Cuddyer’s tiebreaking RBI single came off Brewers closer John Axford.

“He is a professional,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of Cuddyer. “I mean, if you look the word up in the dictionary, I promise you, his picture will be right next to the word.”

Aoki hit the home run for Milwaukee in the fourth, the first major league homer for the former Japanese baseball batting champion. Aoki added a double and scored a run in the sixth.

“I wasn’t expecting to get a home run there so I was just running as hard as I could,” Aoki said, through an interpreter. “I am just very happy with the results.”

Todd Helton hit his second home run of the season and Troy Tulowitzki had a single and an RBI double for the Rockies.

Ryan Braun went 0 for 3 but did reach base when he was hit by a pitch. Braun is 0 for 14 in the first four games of the Brewers’ current homestand.

Rafael Betancourt pitched the ninth for his fourth save, leaving a runner on third base.

Matt Belisle (1-0) earned the win.

Pinch hitter Jason Giambi hit a bloop single off Axford (0-1) to start the ninth, and was replaced by pinch runner Eric Young — who took second when Axford unleashed a wild throw to first on a pickoff attempt. Young advanced to third on a flyout, and Cuddyer came in as a pinch hitter. Cuddyer singled up the middle, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead.

Cuddyer said it takes a different mindset for a player to come in as a late-game pinch hitter.

“I’m not a big fan of it, but it is what it is,” Cuddyer said. “Physically, it was tough to get out in the outfield and run around today.”

Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin went seven innings, giving up three runs and four hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He also had an RBI single in the fourth.

“Just luck,” Chacin said with a laugh.

Chacin now has put together two good outings in a row after struggling in his first start and making a mechanical adjustment. He retired his first 10 batters before Aoki hit a sharp liner in the fourth and the ball scooted past the outstretched glove of diving left fielder Carlos Gonzalez.

“It was almost the catch of the night, too, and we’ve seen Gonzalez make some plays like that,” Tracy said.

The ball went to the wall, where there was a brief moment of indecision between Gonzalez and center fielder Dexter Fowler about who should pick it up. Aoki continued to cruise around the basepaths and was able to score standing up.

The Brewers signed Aoki in the offseason after being awarded negotiating rights with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He is a three-time Central League batting champion.

Brewers starter Shaun Marcum went six innings, giving up three runs and eight hits.

The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gonzalez singled, stole a base and scored on a double by Tulowitzki.

Marcum then loaded the bases in the fourth, intentionally walking Chris Nelson with two outs to bring up the pitcher.

Chacin delivered an RBI single, scoring Tulowitzki, but Braun threw out Ramon Hernandez at the plate.

Hernandez may have felt catcher Jonathan Lucroy missed his shoulder with the tag as he slid and argued vehemently with home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

After Aoki’s homer cut the Rockies’ lead to 2-1, Helton belted a homer deep to right-center field in the sixth for a 3-1 lead. The Rockies then put runners on second and third with one out, but Nelson hit a grounder and third baseman Aramis Ramirez threw home for the out — the Brewers’ second putout at the plate.

Milwaukee came back to tie the game in the sixth on an RBI single by Corey Hart that scored Aoki and an RBI single by Mat Gamel that scored Braun, who had been hit by a pitch.

NOTES: Milwaukee placed LHP Chris Narveson on the 15-day disabled list with a tear in his rotator cuff. The injury still is being evaluated but may require surgery. … Tulowitzki is batting .398 with 12 doubles, 7 home runs and 22 RBIs in his career against the Brewers. … Rockies reliever Josh Roenicke briefly chatted with his uncle, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, before Friday’s game.