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Walker's return can't raise Rockies06/22/2004 11:08 PM ET
By J.R. Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- With the game tied, 1-1, in the seventh inning Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies had the game slip out of their hand.
Specifically, reliever Javier Lopez's hand. Twice.
Lopez hit consecutive batters with the bases loaded and nobody out, and third baseman Keith Ginter added a two-run double as the Brewers posted five runs in the inning and left the Rockies with a 6-2 loss before 13,264 at Miller Park.
"If [starter Jason Jennings] goes back out -- if he's got one more inning in him -- he's going to face four out of five left-handed hitters," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "I liked the matchups better with Javier. You don't get 'Mulligans' in this game. It's out of character [for Lopez], obviously."
Ginter's two-bagger with the bases still loaded came off reliever Steve Reed and worsened the deficit established when Lopez was unable to retire any of the five batters he faced, all of whom eventually scored. Catcher Chad Moeller's RBI groundout one batter after Ginter capped the inning.
The loss spoiled the 2004 debut of outfielder Larry Walker, who went 1-for-2 and reached base three times in his first game since a left groin strain put him out of commission in early April.
"I was happy with it. I got tested a lot down the line and in the gap. I ran the bases a couple times -- I felt fine," Walker said of his return. "Nothing was abnormal for me, nothing awkward, other than that kick save out there on the bouncing puck."
Walker, who doubled to the left-center-field wall off Brewers starter Doug Davis in his first at-bat of the year, referred to a bobble on Bill Hall's seventh-inning single. Walker threw a bullet to second base, compelling Hall to scramble back to first despite being halfway between bags.
"That's the kind of stuff that you take for granted," said Jennings, who spun six innings of one-run baseball. "He turned some possible doubles into singles and put some doubt in the runners' minds."
Hall, nonetheless, scored Milwaukee's go-ahead run later in the inning, crossing home when Lopez (0-2) plunked right fielder Geoff Jenkins in the hip. One pitch later, Lopez hit first baseman Lyle Overbay, a ball that actually lodged itself between the buttons of Overbay's jersey near his stomach, before exiting in favor of Reed.
The collapse cost Jennings, who threw 96 pitches, his fifth win in six starts, though the right-hander did pick up his sixth hit of the year with a single in the fifth.
"He pitched well tonight, there's no doubt," Hurdle said, adding that Jennings might have seen another inning if catcher Charles Johnson hadn't failed to move a runner over with a bunt in the sixth, eventually striking out. "If we get the bunt down, he gets to second, Jennings stays in and gets a shot to drive him in, because [Aaron] Miles is going to get a shot at it too. Once we didn't get the bunt down, I couldn't see Jennings driving him in from first. I wanted someone with some thump up there."
That someone was Matt Holliday, coming off the bench due to Walker's return to the lineup, but he also struck out against Davis.
Todd Helton hit his team-leading 13th home run of the season in the eighth off reliever Jeff Bennett, a blow that snapped Colorado's five-game homerless streak and prevented the club from tying its franchise-record of six without a dinger. Helton also singled and later scored on Vinny Castilla's one-out single in the fourth to even the score, 1-1.
Walker, meanwhile, was hit by a pitch in his second at-bat against Davis (7-5), who held the Rockies to one earned run on six hits in seven innings. The right fielder struck out looking in the sixth and drew a walk off Bennett in the eighth.
"It's a big plus to have them both in the game," outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said before Tuesday's contest, referring to Walker and newly-healed Preston Wilson. "But the facts are, baseball's about pitching. It doesn't matter if you have nine Prestons or nine Larrys in the lineup; the priorities remain the same in my opinion. Pitching is number one."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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