Cuddyer leads Rockies to 4-1 win over Brewers
April 23, 2012
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Whether with Minnesota or Colorado, Michael Cuddyer has always wanted to be up in the big situation.
He came through for his new Rockies teammates Sunday.
Cuddyer had a two run double in the eighth inning that helped lift the Rockies over the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-1.
“A man in scoring position in a 1-1 game — the worst that could happen is you fail. It happens a lot,” Cuddyer said. “You have got to relish those opportunities.”
Jeremy Guthrie (2-1) pitched seven strong innings for the Rockies and outdueled Yovani Gallardo in a matchup of opening-day starters, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings.
Rafael Betancourt pitched the ninth for his fifth straight save to open the season.
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Cuddyer’s big hit came off Francisco Rodriguez (0-2), who took the loss.
With one out in the eighth, Troy Tulowitzki singled and Jason Giambi walked. Cuddyer — who had the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth off Brewers closer John Axford in Friday’s 4-3 win — followed with a line-drive double to the left-field gap.
“It gives us confidence as a team,” said Cuddyer, who left Minnesota to sign a three-year, $31.5 million deal with Colorado in the offseason. “You got two guys that are closers. Axford is their closer, and K-Rod could be anybody else’s closer in the league, so to be able to get two wins off two guys of the caliber like that, it’s huge for our confidence.”
Guthrie has had his struggles and was coming off a pair of poor starts, giving up a combined 12 runs in 10 1-3 innings after a strong outing at Houston on opening day.
He looked good Sunday, allowing only one runner past second base — Ryan Braun, who walked in the fourth and scored on Mat Gamel’s two-out single to make it 1-all. Colorado had opened the scoring with an RBI single by Jason Giambi in the first.
“I had a little bit more action with the fastball that allowed me to use it more effectively and get some miss-hits and some quick outs,” Guthrie said.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said it was “the Guthrie that we saw much of in spring training.”
“Today, it wasn’t just seven innings,” Tracy said. “It was seven quality innings. He had great movement with his two-seam fastball today, great command of his fastballs, period, two- or four-seam, which helped to make the breaking ball, changeup, that much more effective and keep them off balance. He gave us seven terrific innings.”
Braun had a chance to be the star in the eighth. Rickie Weeks walked and Carlos Gomez singled to open the inning off Rex Brothers, but Matt Belisle got Braun to pop out, Aramis Ramirez to fly out to right and Corey Hart to strike out to end the threat.
“We had the opportunities, and we had the guys coming up in our lineup that we count on to drive in runs,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s always tough when you don’t have opportunities during the game and then you have that one shot at it.
“You feel like everything is on the line in that one inning,” he said.
Belisle has not allowed a run in 15 1-3 innings dating to Sept. 6, 2011.
“What a job he did . taking out the 3-4-5 hitters in their lineup, three pretty significant guys,” Tracy said, calling it another good example of a clutch play for the Rockies.
“That’s something that was lacking a year ago,” he said.
The addition of Cuddyer has helped make a difference.
“Every time he steps up to the plate, I think 24 other guys and the coaching staff have confidence he’s going to get a big hit,” Guhtrie said. “We believe in him.”
Said Roenicke: “He’s a great ball player. He plays a lot of different positions and plays them well. But offensively this guy’s getting better every time I see him.”
Gonzalez also had an RBI single in the ninth off top Brewers pitching prospect Wily Peralta, who was making his major league debut.
Gallardo — 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA in six starts again the Rockies entering play — gave up six hits and one run in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one, giving way to Rodriguez.
The Rockies’ win put a damper on the celebration of Ryan Braun’s NL MVP and Silver Slugger awards. The Brewers slugger received his trophies in a pregame ceremony.
Shortly after he won the MVP award this fall, it was first reported by ESPN that Braun tested positive in October for elevated testosterone but his 50-game suspension was overturned on appeal.
NOTES: Jamie Moyer pitches for Colorado on Monday against Pittsburgh after becoming the oldest pitcher in Major League history (49 years, 151 days) to record a win Tuesday. . Tulowitzki’s .402 career average against the Brewers before Sunday was the second-highest for a player with at least 20 games against Milwaukee in franchise history. . Sunday was bobblehead day at Miller Park for Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy.