MILWAUKEE | Kyle Freeland capitalized on a long break between starts to make some changes that helped him break out of his slump.
Freeland pitched four-hit ball over seven innings, Daniel Bard worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and the Colorado Rockies avoided a four-game sweep with a 2-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
“Tonight was a breath of fresh air for me, to be able to get back on track,” Freeland said.
Freeland had posted an 8.44 ERA in his three previous July starts. He hadn’t pitched since July 14, when he lasted just four innings in an 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. After getting removed from that game, he grabbed a bat and struck the light on the dugout ceiling several times to shatter it before tossing the bat away.
He used the All-Star break to figure out what was going wrong with his mechanics.
“I made some adjustments in my last bullpen after my last start, threw another one right after the break as well, and continued to make those adjustments,” Freeland said. “Those adjustments paid off tonight.”
Freeland got help from Elias Díaz, who continued his hot streak with a homer as the Rockies beat the Brewers for the first time in their last nine meetings. The Rockies had defeated the Brewers seven straight times before this stretch.
After failing to get a runner beyond first base through the first eight innings, the Brewers nearly came all the way back in the ninth.
Christian Yelich hit a leadoff single. Willy Adames followed with a potential double-play grounder, but the Rockies failed to get anyone out as second baseman Brendan Rodgers bobbled the ball and threw late to first.
Bard retired Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe before walking Rowdy Tellez to move the tying run to second and put the potential winning run at first. Rodgers then snared Luis Urías’ liner to help Bard earn his 21st save in 23 opportunities.
“That was a bullet, and that ball had a little bit of sinking action,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That was a tough play because it’s hot coming off the bat with, like I said, some sinking action. That was a nice play. That was good for him, to bounce back. That was a tougher play than what it might have appeared on real time or on TV.”
The Brewers totaled 25 runs while winning the first three games of this series, but they had no answers for Freeland (5-7). The Rockies left-hander struck out seven and allowed one walk.
Freeland needed to be virtually flawless to beat Aaron Ashby, who was making his first start since getting engaged on July 18 and signing a five-year, $20.5 million contract with the Brewers on Saturday.
Ashby (2-8) struck out nine and allowed just five hits, two runs and one walk. He worked seven innings and threw 111 pitches, both career highs.
“Everything felt good,” Ashby said. “I had everything working.”
Ashby allowed a leadoff homer in the third inning to Díaz, whose 398-foot drive over the left-field wall came on an 0-1 slider. Díaz is 13 of 27 over his last six games and went 5 of 11 with five RBIs in this series.
Colorado added a run in the fifth. Garrett Hampson hit a leadoff single, stole second, advanced to third on Charlie Blackmon’s grounder to second and scored on Yonathan Daza’s sacrifice fly.
Rockies: SS José Iglesias fouled a ball off his foot in the top of the second inning. Iglesias finished his at-bat after walking around gingerly for a couple of minutes, but he left the game in the bottom half of the second with a bruised left foot. X-rays were negative. … OF Kris Bryant was out of the lineup due to foot discomfort. Black said it’s been a gradual issue over the last few days. “We’re going to get re-evaluated tomorrow when we get to Denver with our doctors, some specialists and we’ll see where we are,” Black said.
Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell said everything went normally for RHP Freddy Peralta in his first rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Nashville. Peralta hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 22 due to a right lat strain. … RHP Jake Cousins (elbow) is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment in Arizona on Tuesday, while RHP Justin Topa (forearm) pitches for Nashville.
Rockies: Return home to begin a two-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. Scheduled starters are RHP Michael Kopech (3-6, 3.36 ERA) for the White Sox and RHP Germán Márquez (6-7, 5.47) for the Rockies.
Brewers: Open a two-game home series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. Probable starters are RHP Dylan Bundy (6-4, 4.71) for the Twins and LHP Ethan Small (0-0, 6.75) for the Brewers.