The Rockies have to bring their A-game to defeat a good team on the road. They neglected to bring it to the ballpark Saturday night.
Behind a dominant start by right-hander Brandon Woodruff and an offense that punished Rockies pitching, the Brewers rolled to a 9-4 victory at American Family Field.
The Brewers, with eyes on their third National League Central title in five years, have won seven straight against the Rockies, who fell to 15-29 on the road, the worst road record in the majors behind only Detroit (15-32).
Colorado’s margin for error is small. Away from Coors Field, it’s infinitesimal. Milwaukee’s five-run sixth inning was proof of that.
Willy Adames led off the frame with a single off of Rockies starter Jose Urena, but Urena got slow-footed Rowdy Tellez to chop the ball to first. But C.J. Cron couldn’t field it and a possible double play vanished. The flood gates opened after that. Kolten Wong ripped an RBI single up the middle, ending Urena’s night.
The Brewers then teed off on reliever Jhoulys Chacin. Hunter Renfroe beat out an infield single to third baseman Ryan McMahon and Victor Caratini lined a two-run double to right. A wild pitch by Chacin scored a run and so did a subsequent single by Christian Yelich.
“It was a little bit rough for J.C., just a little erratic from pitch to pitch,” manager Bud Black told reporters when asked about Chacin, who’s been scored on in six of his last seven outings and has a 7.36 ERA. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for J.C. He just couldn’t string enough pitches together in the sixth inning.”
Urena cruised through his first three innings before yielding a two-out walk to Andrew McCutcheon and a single to Kolten Wong with two out in the fourth. If Urena could have retired the dangerous Renfroe, it might have been a different game. But Renfroe drove Urena’s 1-0 sinker 424 feet and into the center field seats for a three-run homer.
Colorado’s 1-0 lead had quickly dissolved into a 3-1 deficit.
Urena entered the game 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA in his first three starts in a Rockies uniform, but Milwaukee reached him for six runs (five earned) on six hits. He struck out five and walked two.
“I thought he threw the ball fine,” Black said. “The line is not going to indicate how I thought he threw the ball. They bunched some hits together in the sixth, and we didn’t help him.
“I thought his stuff was good, he kept the ball down. Overall, I thought he threw similar to what he’s done in the past — his first three (starts) for us.”
In the first inning, the Rockies appeared to have a solid game plan against Woodruff. They made him throw 27 pitches and took a 1-0 lead, combining an infield single by Jose Iglesias, a walk by C.J. Cron and an RBI single by Brendan Rodgers.
But thereafter, Woodruff dominated Colorado with his two-seam fastball, allowing just four singles, striking out eight and walking one in his six innings. Woodruff improved to 8-3 and whittled his ERA to 3.73.
Colorado made some noise in the ninth off reliever Connor Sadzeck.
Cron, who struck out five times in Colorado’s 13-inning loss on Friday night, led off the ninth with a solo blast, his 22nd homer of the season. And Yonathan Daza hit a two-run homer, his first of the season and his first homer in 349 at-bats, which was the fourth-longest active streak in the majors entering the night.
With the Aug. 2 trade deadline looming, the Rockies are playing like a team that will be sellers. Counting a home loss to Pittsburgh before the all-star break, Colorado has lost three straight games and is nine games under .500 with a 43-52 record. The Rockies are on pace to finish 73-89.
Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (6-5, 4.11 ERA) at Brewers LHP Eric Lauer (6-3, 3.64)
12:10 p.m. Sunday, American Family Park
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Kuhl knows the Brewers well from his days in Pittsburgh. He’s 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 11 career outings (10 starts) against the Brewers. The right-hander pitched a gem on June 27 against the Dodgers at Coors Field, throwing the first complete-game shutout of his career. Since then, however, he’s put up a 7.36 ERA over three starts. Kuhl is 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA in nine road starts this season.
Lauer, making his 18th start of the season, pitched well in his last outing, though he didn’t get a decision in Milwaukee’s 2-1 loss at San Francisco. The lefty pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits, with three walks and four strikeouts. The Brewers were 10-7 in his 17 starts and opponents are batting just .226 against him. Lauer has not fared well against Colorado, going 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA in nine career starts. But in two games last season, he was excellent, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
Trending: Lefty reliever Lucas Gilbreath entered Saturday’s game having been scored on just once over his last 13 games, good for a 0.66 ERA.
At issue: After a hot start, backup rookie catcher Brian Serven has come back to earth. Entering Saturday night’s game, he was 1-for-22 (.045) in his seven games in July. He’s hitting just .091 (3-for-33) with one double, four walks and eight strikeouts through his last 10 games.
Monday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-7, 4.96) at Brewers LHP Aaron Ashby (2-7, 4.57), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: White Sox TBA at Rockies RHP German Marquez (6-7, 5.47), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM