Braun's clutch hit helps Brewers sweep Rockies
Braun hit a two-run triple off Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez and scored on a throwing error, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-1 win and a three-game sweep over Colorado on Sunday.
Braun came all the way around to score in the third after center fielder Dexter Fowler tried to make a diving catch, then compounded the problem by committing a throwing error.
"When you're facing a pitcher like Ubaldo you know you're not going to get too many opportunities or square up too many balls. So when you do get hits you hope guys are on base," Braun said. "We were efficient with our hits."
Braun's liner was the only one off Jimenez until Mark Kotsay's double with one out in the eighth.
"It is unbelievable. One hit, three runs, very unusual game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Braunie's ball, hit it in a good spot, the guy dives for it and it allows us really to get the third run there, which is important."
Jimenez (0-4) threw the seventh complete game of his career, but struggled to find the strike zone with five walks and a hit batter.
"I've been a work in progress," Jimenez said. "I made a major step today, but I still have things to work on."
Randy Wolf (4-4) allowed four hits and pitched around trouble for seven innings. He got key double plays in the fourth and fifth innings before settling down. Kameron Loe pitched the eighth and John Axford saved his 12th game, including his last nine chances in a row. He struck out Jason Giambi following a two-out walk in the ninth to end it.
Milwaukee improved to an NL-best 16-6 at home and has won 10 of its last 13 overall. The Brewers are playing their best baseball of the season despite almost being one-hit for the third time this year.
"I'm just happy with the way we've played for the last couple of weeks. I think we're playing the kind of ball that allows us, in a long season, to get to where we want to be," Roenicke said. "To win a game with two hits is not going to happen very often."
Colorado took a 1-0 lead in the third when Fowler tripled with two outs and scored on Carlos Gonzalez's single to right. But that was the only offense for the Rockies, who finished this road trip 1-4 and have scored 16 runs in the span. Todd Helton returned from back spasms, but struck out twice and didn't get a hit in four at-bats.
"We hit some balls hard. When we do square balls up, we're not catching much of a break. That's for doggone sure. We just have to move on," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "With what's going on with us right now offensively, it's one situation like that after another."
In the bottom of the third, Carlos Gomez walked and after Wolf sacrificed him over, Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch.
With two outs and Braun up, a double steal put runners in scoring position before Braun hit a sharp liner to center field. Fowler's dive wasn't close as the ball crossed through the shadows, and Fowler's throw back to the infield was errant, allowing Braun to sprint home to make it 3-1.
"I got a pretty good jump on the ball. The ball was running away from me," Fowler said. "If it happens again, I'd do the same thing at that point in the game."
The Rockies typically solid defense looked shaky to Milwaukee. Colorado had at least one error in all three games, the first time that's happened all year.
Wolf got in a big jam in the fourth with the bases loaded and one out before Jimenez hit into a 4-6-3 double play. In the fifth, Gonzalez hit into another double play to end a threat.
"As the game went on, my command got better," said Wolf, who had entered 0-2 with a 8.56 ERA in three previous May starts. "When I felt like I needed to make a pitch I could to get out of some trouble where before I didn't have that comfort level out there."
The Rockies fell to 1-7 in games featuring Jimenez, a 19-game winner last year. Jimenez, who had a no-hitter last season, is now 5-2 when pitching a complete game.
"We knew he was going to be tough, but you've got to do what you've got to do," Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder said. "We're just winning."
NOTES: The Rockies recalled RHP Greg Reynolds to take Felipe Paulino's spot after Paulino was designated for assignment Saturday night. Reynolds will pitch out of the bullpen until a spot start Saturday. ... After a day off Monday, the Rockies will pitch LHP Jorge De La Rosa and RHP Jhoulys Chacin in a doubleheader with Arizona on Tuesday followed by Jason Hammel, Clayton Mortensen, Jimenez and Reynolds. ... Brewers OF Nyjer Morgan (left middle finger) is expected to make two rehab appearances in Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to the team. ... Brewers LHP Zach Braddock (sleep disorder) is expected to throw 35 pitches at Class-A Wisconsin on Monday.