Jimenez sharp, Stewart HRs as Rockies beat Brewers
MILWAUKEE – Ubaldo Jimenez stayed out of big trouble with his 99 mph fastball and Ian Stewart homered on his birthday, lifting the Colorado Rockies to a 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in Monday’s season opener.
Jimenez gave up a run and struck out six in six innings. The Rockies won the matchup between the last two NL wild-card teams.
The 26-year-old Jimenez (1-0) became the first Rockies starter to win on opening day in six years.
Milwaukee got the tying run to the plate in the ninth after a shaky outing by Franklin Morales, but he held on for the save with Colorado closer Huston Street on the disabled list.
Stewart, celebrating his 25th birthday, hit a solo homer off Yovani Gallardo (0-1). Carlos Gomez also homered in his Milwaukee debut.
Gomez had four hits, including a double in the ninth off Morales that put runners on second and third with no outs. Ryan Braun followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3, but Morales forced Prince Fielder and Jim Edmonds to line out to end it.
Milwaukee finished 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and lost its seventh straight to Colorado.
Rested and recharged, these Rockies looked a whole lot like the group that went 74-42 under Jim Tracy after Colorado dismissed Clint Hurdle on May 29 trailing by 14 1/2 games in the NL West.
The Rockies never caught up with the Dodgers, but captured the spirit of Tracy’s easygoing demeanor in winning the NL wild card. Colorado went on to lose in four games to Philadelphia, just like the Brewers did the year prior.
This season, Jimenez and the rest of the Rockies got off to good start.
His best moments came in the fifth, when he struck out the side around an RBI double by Braun that made it 4-1. He used a 97 mph inside fastball to strike out Rickie Weeks looking. Moments later, he had Fielder dodging that same pitch for another called third strike that the burly first baseman didn’t like.
It was the earliest that the Miller Park roof was open for a regular season game in the 10-year history of the stadium, and the sun and shadows may have played a factor in the Rockies’ first runs.
In the second with Stewart batting, new Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun couldn’t control a wild pitch by Gallardo that ricocheted off his glove and he failed to find it as Brad Hawpe came around from second to score.
Stewart took Gallardo’s next pitch to deep center field to make it 2-0 and followed with a sacrifice fly in the fourth in his next at bat.
Troy Tulowitzki’s two-out RBI single in the fifth made it 4-0. Pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs doubled in Carlos Gonzalez, who tied a career high with four hits, for the Rockies’ final run with two outs in the ninth.
Gomez homered to left field against Rockies reliever Matt Belisle with two outs in the seventh to make it 4-2 and the Brewers loaded the bases after that, but reliever Matt Daley got Casey McGehee on a weak popup.
NOTES: Colorado will start LHP Greg Smith on Tuesday in place of the injured Jeff Francis. Smith did not pitch in the majors last year. … Shawn Estes last won as a Rockies starter on opening day. … Milwaukee’s attendance of 45,808 was the second most in park history. … Former pitcher Lew Krausse threw the first pitch to former catcher Jim McNertney. The two were opening day starters for the Brewers in 1970. The franchise began one year earlier in Seattle as the Pilots.
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