Garrett Atkins’ career day leads Colorado Rockies over Milwaukee Brewers 19-4

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DENVER (AP)—The way the Colorado Rockies swung the bats on Wednesday surely would have made the Blake Street Bombers proud.

The Rockies had their best day at the plate in nearly two years, routing the slumping Milwaukee Brewers 19-4 and completing a three-game sweep of the NL Central leaders.

Garrett Atkins matched his career high with six RBIs and had four of Colorado’s 23 hits, the club’s biggest day at the plate since a 20-1 victory over San Diego on Sept. 20, 2005, when the Rockies also had 23 hits.

The Rockies pounded 11 extra-base hits, tying a club record set Aug. 3, 2003, at Pittsburgh. Their 19 runs were one shy of the team record, and their 23 hits were also one off the franchise mark.

“It feels good to have these types of games,” Atkins said. “You look for a pitch to hit and you generate. It was one of those games that we hit everything hard. We have the offense that is capable of that.”

Colorado won its fifth straight home game. The Rockies’ 21-5 mark at home since June 2 is best in baseball during that span.

Milwakuee, which was outscored 36-10 in the series, had its worst day on the mound since allowing 19 runs to the New York Yankees on Sept. 25, 1996. They last allowed 23 hits on Aug. 22, 1997, against Detroit.

“They hit everything we threw up there,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

The Rockies (59-54) moved five games over .500 for the first time since last May 22.

“It is enjoyable,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We are hitting the ball from line to line, we are gapping balls, situational hitting and hitting balls out of the ballpark.”

The beneficiary was Jeff Francis, who set a franchise record by winning his eighth straight decision.

Francis (13-5), who has lost just once in 18 starts since May 2, matched his win total from last season. He allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.

“We gave him enough today,” Atkins said. “More importantly, we got him another W.”

Atkins was 4-for-4 with two doubles, and Troy Tulowitzki went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs. Matt Holliday tripled and drove in two runs, and Brad Hawpe hit a two-run homer for the Rockies.

Yovani Gallardo (4-2) was rocked for 11 runs and 12 hits in 2 2-3 innings, both easily career highs. He hadn’t given up more than four runs in any of his previous seven major league starts.

Prince Fielder hit his NL-leading 34th homer for the Brewers, who have lost four straight and 14 of 20. Milwaukee remained one game ahead of second-place Chicago in the NL Central, after the Cubs lost 8-2 to the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Some bad news hampered an otherwise stellar day for Colorado.

X-rays revealed Jason Hirsh had a broken leg. Hirsh took a J.J. Hardy line drive off his leg in the first inning on Monday night’s 11-4 win, and kept pitching. He allowed three runs—two earned—and three hits in six innings, throwing 87 pitches and improving his record to 5-7.

Todd Helton, who homered in his final two at-bats Monday night and doubled and walked in the first two innings, was removed from the game in the third inning because of back spasms.

Hurdle said the move was “precautionary,” and that if the game had been close he would have played through it. Helton was listed as day-to-day.

The Rockies spotted Francis an 11-0 lead after three innings, scoring a run in the first, seven in the second and three in the third.

“You get out of rhythm,” Francis said of his long stretches in the dugout. “(But) you ask any pitcher if they would rather have their rhythm or a have a 16-run lead in the third inning and they would take the lead.”

The Brewers’ bullpen was spent, leaving Yost with little choice but to leave Gallardo on the mound despite his rocky start.

“I hated to do that to Gallardo,” said Yost.

Said Gallardo: “It’s kind of tough. But I was going to stay out there as long as they let me stay out there, keep on battling and get deep into the game. Obviously it didn’t go well.”

The Brewers nearly ran out of pitchers anyway. They used five relievers, and if Derrick Turnbow wasn’t able to get through the eighth, Yost said he would have had to pitch a position player.

“You try to maintain some professionalism by not having position players pitch, which is something I really don’t want to do, but Turnbow was our last guy.”

Notes

Milwaukee 2B Tony Graffanino left after the first inning with a sprained right knee. … The Brewers waived veteran RHP Elmer Dessens, who had been designated for assignment on Saturday. Dessens had a 6.60 ERA in 15 innings. Colorado’s seven-run second inning tied a season high for runs in an inning. … The Rockies placed C Edwin Bellorin (strained hamstring) on the 15-day DL and purchased the contract of C Alvin Colina from Colorado Springs.

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