Rockies beat Brewers 8-7 in wild game
Not bad for a defensive replacement.
Smith hit a tying two-run homer in the seventh and a key RBI single in the eighth, helping Colorado beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-7 in a wild game at Coors Field.
The Rockies needed the jolt from Smith because their brilliant bullpen finally blew up, allowing the Brewers to bat around in the ninth. Rafael Betancourt finally closed it out for his first save of the season, getting rookie Jonathan Lucroy to line out on the 10th pitch of a masterful at-bat.
Colorado trailed 4-1 when Smith entered the game in the seventh along with reliever Matt Belisle. Smith's 10th homer in the bottom half tied it at 4.
After Jason Giambi's sacrifice fly broke the tie an inning later, Smith singled to left. Ryan Braun made a perfect throw to beat Chris Nelson by several feet. But the rookie, who reached on a bunt moments earlier in his major league debut, jarred the ball out of Lucroy's catcher's mitt, spun and stepped on the plate, then waved in Ian Stewart to make it 7-4.
Smith was credited with a run-scoring single on the strange play. He scored on Jonathan Herrera's fourth single of the night, giving the Rockies a four-run cushion.
That's when things really got interesting.
Corey Hart cut it to 8-7 with a single swing, his 18th homer coming off closer Manny Corpas with two outs.
Left-hander Franklin Morales was brought in to face Prince Fielder, who walked on four pitches. So, in came Betancourt to face Braun, who doubled to right-center, putting runners at second and third for Casey McGehee, who was intentionally walked.
Lucroy, whom Betancourt struck out to quash an eighth-inning rally the night before, fouled off six straight 1-2 pitches, including a slider that he curled just inside the left-field foul pole in an amazing tussle that lasted more than eight minutes.
"I was just trying to have a good at-bat," Lucroy said. "I didn't want it to be like last night where I struck out. I wanted to give a guy a run for his money."
He sure gave the 39,192 fans in the stands their money's worth.
"He had a marvelous at-bat," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "You're not going to find too many better at-bats than that. He ended up hitting the ball too good."
Right at right fielder Brad Hawpe.
"That was a good at-bat," Betancourt said. "It was the last out of the game. I faced him the night before. He probably knew what I was going to throw with the tying runner at third base."
All fastballs — except for the one slider that he couldn't sneak past Lucroy. Finally, he threw a 94 mph fastball higher in the zone to get the out.
"It's nerve-racking, you're in here and you can't do anything," said Rockies starter Jeff Francis, who watched the end of the game on a clubhouse television. "You become a fan at that point. You're sweating, you're angry, you say how much you hate baseball.
"And then when it's over, you say how much you love baseball."
Lucroy was kicking himself, not about the final at-bat but over allowing Nelson to jar the ball loose in the eighth.
"It was like his arms or shoulder. He hit me pretty good," Lucroy said. "He hit my hands. He didn't hurt me, he hit me pretty much perfect to knock it out. He didn't want to hit me square on, he tried to hit my hands and my glove. It was a good job on his part. If he would have hit me square on he would have been out."
Nelson said he was going to slide headfirst, but "then I heard the mitt pop when he caught the ball, so I just tried to do everything I could to pop the ball loose."
Belisle (2-3) picked up the win despite allowing three hits in 1 1-3 innings, and Zach Braddock (1-1) took the loss after loading the bases with nobody out in the eighth.
Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo handed a 4-1 lead over to his bullpen after six spectacular innings, then watched right-hander Carlos Villanueva promptly give up the advantage. Villanueva gave up Miguel Olivo's ninth homer and Smith's drive sandwiched around an infield single by Clint Barmes.
Gallardo allowed singles to the first two batters he faced, one of whom came around to score, but he surrendered just two more harmless singles to go with one walk and nine strikeouts.
Alcides Escobar knocked in two runs for the Brewers, who entered the game having scored just two runs over their previous 25 innings.
The Brewers went ahead 2-1 in the sixth when Rockies first baseman Todd Helton never saw Stewart's on-line throw from third that sailed past his outstretched glove. Hart went to third on Helton's error and Rickie Weeks scored from first.
An inning earlier, Escobar's single through Francis' legs scored McGehee from second base with Milwaukee's first run in 19 2-3 innings, tying it at 1.
NOTES: Carlos Gonzalez missed his second straight start with a sprained left knee, and Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he doesn't expect him to start again until Tuesday when the Boston Red Sox visit Coors Field for the first time since winning the 2007 World Series here. ... Brewers RHP Todd Coffey (bruised right thumb) threw an inning for Triple-A Nashville on Friday night and will be activated Sunday.
Last updated: 2:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012