Brewers' rally comes up short after early deficit

Brewers' rally comes up short after early deficit

Brewers' rally comes up short after early deficit
DENVER -- Twice in the final two innings, the Brewers had their big bats at the plate with an opportunity to erase what had seemed, only a few innings earlier, an insurmountable deficit.

But Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and Braun flied out to snuff an inspired rally in the ninth, leaving the Brewers with an 8-6 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday.

Starter Randy Wolf's early struggles -- four runs in the first inning alone -- proved too much to overcome, though Braun gave it a shot. An inning after he struck out with the bases loaded, Braun batted again in the ninth representing the go-ahead run, just missing a Rafael Betancourt cut fastball for a game-ending flyout to center field.

"I've come through in a lot of situations like that, so I expect to have success," said Braun, who has been stuck on 29 home runs for 49 plate appearances. "Whether you're going good or not going good, there's nothing better than getting a hit in that situation.

"Certainly, I want to be in that situation, I want to have a chance to influence the outcome. Unfortunately, it didn't go well for me tonight."

On his final swing, Braun just missed. Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler froze and looked up before making the catch short of the warning track. Braun was 0-for-5, and has six hits in his last 41 at-bats.

"There's been a lot of 'just misses' over the last week, week and a half," Braun said. "It's a frustrating game sometimes."

For the second straight series, the Brewers find themselves on the verge of being swept by a last-place team. Milwaukee managed to hold off the Astros on Sunday in Houston and will try to do the same against the Rockies on Wednesday behind rookie starter Mark Rogers.

With Tuesday's loss, the Brewers fell back to 11 games under .500, matching their low point for the season. They have lost 13 of their past 14 games away from Miller Park, including four of five games on this particular trip against the Astros and Rockies -- two clubs that are a combined 68 games under .500.

"We're optimistic, but at the same time we're realistic that we really haven't played well. It's not a secret," Braun said. "We haven't played consistent baseball. We haven't really deserved to win many more games than we have won."

Starting pitching, so good for the Brewers last week during a stretch of six quality starts in seven games, has been the culprit in the mile-high air of Coors Field. Monday starter Mike Fiers and Tuesday starter Wolf combined to surrender 14 earned runs and 19 hits in seven innings.

Wolf was coming off a quality start against the NL Central-leading Reds but found trouble early Tuesday, allowing four runs on four hits and a hit batsman in a first inning that might have been worse had shortstop Jean Segura not initiated a slick, inning-ending double play. Wolf surrendered six earned runs on 10 hits over five innings and saw his ERA rise to 5.65.

He had fared well against the Rockies in his career, going 7-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 previous starts, including 2-2 with a 4.04 ERA in seven starts at Coors Field.

"I had little or no idea where the ball was going today," Wolf said. "When you're out there kind of guessing where the ball is going to go, it's pretty tough to pitch."

The baseball continued to slip out of Wolf's hand after the first inning, though he limited the Rockies to two more runs from the second through the fifth. Rockies All-Star Carlos Gonzalez had four hits and was among four different players to drive in two runs apiece. Catcher Wilin Rosario hit a home run against Wolf with two outs in the fifth inning, and first baseman Jordan Pacheco hit a two-run home run off reliever Jose Veras with two outs in the sixth.

The Rockies built leads of 4-0 and 8-2 before the Brewers had a chance to mount their comeback.

"Obviously, you never want to get behind like that, where you know you need to score a lot of runs," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But, in this ballpark, you should always feel like you're going to score a lot of runs."

In the end, the Brewers did score a lot of runs. Catcher Martin Maldonado had two hits including a solo home run, scored two runs, drove in two and accounted for another with a double-play groundout. He accounted for one of the Brewers' five hits in the ninth inning against Rockies relievers Rex Brothers and Betancourt, as Milwaukee cut an 8-3 deficit to 8-6.

Betancourt retired Rickie Weeks and Braun on flyouts to end the ninth. An inning earlier, another Rockies reliever, Matt Belisle, struck out Braun and Ramirez to strand the bases loaded.

"It was a good ballgame, with some theater, I might add," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Said Roenicke with a shrug: "Two innings, the right guys up."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.