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Hammel leads Rockies to win over Brewers

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PAT GRAHAM
June 19, 2010
— Upstaging Ubaldo Jimenez is difficult to do these days.

Jason Hammel, though, is giving it a good run.


Hammel followed in the footsteps of the best pitcher in the majors, shutting down the Milwaukee Brewers for 7 1-3 innings as the injury-riddled Colorado Rockies held on for a 2-0 win Friday night.


That was a performance even Jimenez found impressive.


"He had really good stuff," said Jimenez, who leads the league with 13 wins and a 1.15 ERA. "I get excited every time he's pitching."


The right-handed Hammel ran his streak of scoreless innings to a career-best 25 1-3, proving that he can be a fine complement to the Rockies ace.


"It's nice to be mentioned with Ubaldo," Hammel said. "His stuff is a little better than me."


Hammel (5-3) also contributed offensively in the absence of slugging shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who will be out for about six weeks after breaking his left wrist when he was hit by a pitch in Minnesota on Thursday. Hammel finished 1 for 2 with a double and a well-placed squeeze bunt in the second for just his second career RBI.


"Jason Hammel had himself some kind of night," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I see a guy that's as focused as I saw during the course of our entire spring training."


For that, Hammel credits his time on the disabled list earlier this season. He needed that down period, just to clear his head from an 0-2 start and a 9.16 ERA.


By simplifying his approach, he's rekindled his form. Hammel is now 5-1 since returning from a strained right groin on May 15.


"He pitched great, but it was normal great pitching by a pitcher," Prince Fielder said. "It wasn't anything that was different. He was hitting his spots and when we had opportunities, we didn't capitalize."


Hammel was pulled after giving up a one-out single to Ryan Braun in the eighth, the crowd giving him a robust round of applause as he exited.


Fielder then followed with a double off Joe Beimel, putting runners on second and third.


Rafael Betancourt was summoned in from the bullpen, getting Casey McGehee to pop out and then striking out Jonathan Lucroy on a 94-mph fastball.


It was a night that McGehee would rather forget. He also had a roller from Ryan Spilborghs sneak under his glove for a two-out single in the first that ultimately led to a run.


McGehee also popped out to Miguel Olivo in the first to help Hammel wiggle out of a one-out, bases loaded jam. That was really the only time the Brewers ever got Hammel on the ropes.


"If I catch a routine ground ball, if I hit two fly balls, it's a 2-1 game and we're out of here with a win," McGehee said. "It's as simple as that. This one's on me. simple as that. I've got to do a better job. This is unacceptable."


Milwaukee lefty Manny Parra (1-5) had a solid outing, surrendering two runs and six hits in six innings. This was Parra's 22nd appearance of the season, most coming as a reliever.


Brewers manager Ken Macha was ejected in the fourth for arguing a call with first base umpire Larry Vanover, who originally called Carlos Gomez safe after he appeared to avoid Todd Helton's tag on a sacrifice bunt down the line.


Tracy argued the call and the crew huddled before deciding Gomez was out for going outside of the basepath.


The mild-mannered Macha marched out, spoke his mind and was tossed for the first time since he took over the Brewers on Oct. 30, 2008.


"They just said they got the play right," Macha explained. "Their manager came out and then they called him out you'll have to take it from there."


Hammel helped his cause by laying down a suicide squeeze in the second inning with Ian Stewart breaking from third base. Hammel even had to jump out of the way from Parra's inside pitch, yet still got it in play.


The Rockies may need to scratch for runs by any means necessary with Tulowitzki's bat out of the lineup.


"Every little detail is vitally important," Tracy said. "Let's face it: It magnifies itself when you've lost a chunk of offense like that, and a very, very special player."


Notes: Rockies OF Brad Hawpe drove in a first-inning run with one of his two doubles. ... Braun went 2 for 3 with a walk. ... It was Colorado's ninth shutout of the season. ... Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez (bruised left knee) sat out Friday, but could be back in some capacity Saturday.



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