MILWAUKEE -- After losing his sixth straight start last week, Jimmy Nelson made the case that he was pitching better than his box scores. On Monday, he could finally let a box score speak for itself.
In his first quality start in more than a month, Nelson scattered seven Rockies hits and yielded two runs over six innings of the Brewers' 4-2 win at Miller Park. He didn't walk a batter for the first time all season and threw his first pitches in a sixth inning since his most recent victory -- a July 16 triumph over the Reds in which Nelson worked seven shutout innings.
"The big thing was that [Nelson] threw a ton of strikes tonight -- 71 strikes in 95 pitches," Counsell said. "He was pounding the zone very well tonight. He put them in swing mode a little bit because of that."
Rockies leadoff man David Dahl scored the first of his two runs in the opening inning, but Nelson cut short that rally with help from right fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, before watching Milwaukee push ahead against Colorado starter Chad Bettis, who walked seven Brewers in his five innings. Nieuwenhuis' two-run single capped a three-run inning, and Chris Carter added a solo home run in the third.
"It's just one of those nights," Bettis said. "Didn't have very much stuff working and it was a battle. It was a tough loss and you have to pitch better than that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Captain Kirk takes flight: Nieuwenhuis had an active opening inning. Before his bloop hit to center field in the bottom of the frame gave the Brewers a 3-1 lead, he made a diving, snowcone catch in right field to rob DJ LeMahieu of a hit. The catch helped Nelson navigate a 25-pitch inning that saw him surrender two singles and hit a batter, but only one run.
"They had a big inning working, for sure," Counsell said. "If that ball gets through, the middle of their lineup is obviously very dangerous. That was certainly a huge play. Any starter, getting through that first inning -- he ended up giving up a run but limited the damage there. Getting into the rhythm of the game is a big deal. That catch was the play of the game, really."
Said Nieuwenhuis: "It ended up being a little further run than I thought, and then [the ball] was coming out there at the end. I was able to pin it against my chest on the ground. … It kind of reinforces that you have to be into every pitch."
What a Dahl: Both of the Rockies' runs came courtesy of Dahl's wheels atop the lineup. The impressive rookie singled to lead off the game, stole second and then scored on a wild pitch to put Colorado on the board first. In the fifth, Dahl once again singled and stole second before coming around on a RBI single from LeMahieu.
"My legs felt pretty fresh today," said Dahl, who has hit safely in eight of his last nine games. "I was just trying to get into scoring position for the guys behind me. I scored twice, just didn't come away with the win."
Nice, round numbers: It was a good night for the Brewers' Astros imports. Jonathan Villar stole a base in each of the first two innings to give him the fourth season in franchise history of 50-plus steals, the first since Scott Podsednik led the Majors with 70 steals in 2004. In the third, Carter's solo homer to the left-field bleachers gave him 30 home runs this season, the first Brewer to reach that plateau since Ryan Braun (41 homers) and Corey Hart 30) in 2012.
"All the fives and zeros are big numbers, and big positives from probably 20 on," Carter said. More >
Turning two: The Rockies avoided allowing any further damage to the Crew by inducing three inning-ending double plays over a stretch of five frames. Bettis got Braun to hit into a twin killing with two men on in the second and Villar with one on in the fourth. In throwing three hitless innings in relief, Jordan Lyles ended the sixth with Villar's second double play of the game.
"Jordan comes in and does a really nice job, keeps the game right there and gives us a chance," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We just couldn't muster anything offensively."
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Bettis set a career high with seven walks, marking the eighth time a Major Leaguer walked at least that many in a game this season. The Brewers have been on the offensive end of three of those -- including a seven-walk performance against the Cubs' Jake Arrieta on Thursday.
Nelson is three hit batsmen shy of the Brewers record (Jamey Wright plunked 20 batters in 2001), but the Major League record is probably safe. It is held by Philadelphia Athletics right-hander Chick Fraser, who hit 32 batters (and walked 132 to lead the American League) on the way to winning 22 games in 1901.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Right-hander Jon Gray takes the mound for Colorado on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. MT. In each of his last four starts, Gray hasn't lasted more than five innings. Outfielder Charlie Blackmon (right big toe) is expected to return to the Colorado lineup, as well.
Brewers:Chase Anderson starts for the first time since a scare at Wrigley Field when the series continues Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Anderson's last start was cut short after 11 pitches when he was struck in the left thigh by a Kris Bryant line drive. He logged two innings of relief on Friday in Seattle.