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Pomeranz fades as Rockies fall

April 21, 2012

MILWAUKEE — Esmil Rogers finally had an off night, and it sparked a big Brewers rally.

Entering the game having tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings over four games, Rogers had been among the Rockies’ most reliable relievers through the first three weeks of the season. But Saturday went a little differently, as he gave up four runs on five hits over 1 1/3 innings in the Rockies’ 9-4 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park.

Rogers entered the game with a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but a home run by Ryan Braun — which snapped an 0-for-16 streak for the reigning National League MVP — quickly tied things up.

“We needed a stop; the Ryan Braun home run is the home run, but we needed a stop in the seventh inning,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “And not only did we not get the stop, but the floodgates opened.”

The seventh inning went even worse as Rogers gave up a leadoff single, an RBI triple that gave the Brewers the lead, and an RBI single before leaving the game.

Braun, who admitted he’s been pressing to break out, added an RBI triple off the wall in left-center field. Three batters later, Alex Gonzalez connected for a 3-run homer off Edgmer Escalona to put the game well out of reach.

“Once you start struggling, you start trying too hard,” Braun said. “This game is hard enough as is. Once you start doing that, you get yourself in more trouble. Hopefully, a game like this tonight, collectively, it will get us out of our little funk.”

Tracy pointed to Rogers pitching from behind hitters as a key to the rough outing, as well as getting too much of the plate with a couple of two-strike pitches that turned into hits.

That six-run inning completely changed what was an excellent game early for the Rockies.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz retired the first 12 batters he faced Saturday, but command issues knocked him out of the game having tossed just five innings and 74 pitches. He opened the fifth with a four-pitch walk, then gave up back-to-back doubles, which put the Brewers ahead, 2-1.

Before getting the first out of the inning, Pomeranz issued a second walk. Through four batters, the lefty had already tossed 17 pitches in the inning, only five of which were strikes. All told, it was a 30-pitch frame for Pomeranz after he needed just 44 to get through four innings.

“It’s just one of those things where I lost my rhythm for a minute and you can’t do that in the middle of a game,” Pomeranz said. “It’s hard to pitch when you lose it for a second there.”

As rough as the fifth inning was, Pomeranz still managed to limit the damage, thanks in part to the Brewers’ small ball strategy. He got the first out on a sacrifice bunt, and a contact play one batter later resulted in an easy out at home. Despite facing eight batters and allowing the first four to reach base, Pomeranz gave up just the two runs.

In his second start of the season, Pomeranz went five innings, allowing two runs on two hits. He also walked three batters and had a career-high six strikeouts.

“I saw a guy with great stuff the first four innings and then he just lost control,” Troy Tulowitzki said. “But those first four innings, I think he needs to build off that and look at the positive.”

Tulowitzki sparked the Rockies offensively, going 2-for-3 on the night with a home run and an RBI single. The latter put Colorado in front 3-2 before the Brewers rallied against the Rockies’ bullpen.

Todd Helton also homered in the game, his third of the year and second in as many nights. Aside from one rough inning, the Rockies played another solid game Saturday in Milwaukee.

In fact, had they gotten another hit in the top of the sixth, the result may have been a lot different.

“We missed an opportunity that could have changed the complexion of the entire game,” Tracy said. “We had taken the lead in the sixth inning and we stole second and third on the 3-1 pitch. A two-out base hit there changes this entire scheme of things. But it just didn’t work out tonight and we’ve got to come back here tomorrow and try to win a series here.”

Jordan Schelling is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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