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Brewers blow lead in ninth, but win in 10th

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- It took the Brewers' prolific offense awhile to wake up Monday, but the Brewers finally got the job done -- twice -- earning a 5-4, 10-inning, Opening Day victory over the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park, snapping a four-year losing streak in season openers.

After the Brewers took a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Milwaukee closer John Axford surrendered a two-out home run to Colorado's Dexter Fowler in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.

After loading the bases against Adam Ottavino in the 10th, Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy finally ended the affair with a soft fly to center that scored Rickie Weeks.

"I was sitting fastball, kind of middle-in," Lucroy said. "He just left a slider up in the zone. I tried to stay back and hit it somewhere that would stay through the middle ... it worked out."

The Brewers' rallied from two runs down after a mostly frustrating day against Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, who held Milwaukee to just a run on three hits, walking three and striking out six in 6 2/3 innings of work.

Chacin kept Milwaukee's lineup at bay much of the day, throwing first-pitch strikes to almost every batter he faced. He retired 12 of his last 13 batters after allowing the home run to Aoki.

"Jhoulys was great, especially as he got deeper into the game," said Colorado manager Walt Weiss, who lost in his managerial debut. "He really, really settled in. That's a real bright spot for Jhoulys to have a start like that."

Neither starter was particularly sharp early in their first starts of the season. Yovani Gallardo needed 40 pitches to get through the first two innings while Chacin used 38.

Gallardo managed to work around four hits, but allowed Troy Tulowitzki's first home run of the season in the third, giving Colorado a 2-0 lead. Milwaukee got one back in the bottom of the frame, when Norichika Aoki hit a fastball to right for his first homer of the season.

Colorado threatened in the fourth, loading the bases against Gallardo, but Chris Nelson was caught in a baserunning gaffe to end the inning. The Rockies tacked on one more in the fifth on a Carlos Gonzalez's leadoff home run.

Gallardo, looking for his first victory in four Opening Day starts, was done after five innings, having allowed three runs on 10 hits with a walk, three strikeouts and the two home runs.

"Even though he gave up a lot of hits and was in trouble every inning, he only gave up three runs," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "When you don't have your good stuff and you keep a team in the ball game like he did, that shows that Yo knows how to get out of trouble and the bullpen came in and was really good."

The only run charged to Chacin was the third-inning homer by Aoki, and through the first seven innings, Aoki was the only Brewer batter to reach base twice -- walking in the first inning.

Aoki also got the comeback started in the eighth, reaching on a one-out fielder's choice against Colorado reliever Wilton Lopez. He advanced to second on Weeks' single and scored on Ryan Braun's two-out single to short, which was fielded cleanly by Tulowitzki, who couldn't get off a throw.

Aramis Ramierez followed, working the count to 2-2 before ripping a splitter down the left-field line to put the Brewers ahead 3-2 with his second hit of the day.

But in a scene that became familiar last season, when Milwaukee's hopes at repeating as NL Central champs were dashed by a league-leading 23 blown saves, Axford struck out Nelson and pinch hitter Eric Young before Fowler tied the game with a first-pitch home run to right.

"We've got the ability to get quick points," Weiss said. "We have some guys that hit the long ball today. We've got guys in the lineup that can strike quick."

Jim Henderson worked a scoreless 10th for the Brewers, who started their rally when Weeks was hit by an Ottavino pitch with one out. Ottavino followed by walking Braun intentionally. Ramirez followed with another walk loading the bases for Lucroy.

"When he hit it, I didn't think he hit it that good," Ottavino said. "But it went pretty far, so he did a good job. It just stinks to go out there and lose the first game, especially when you're out on the mound to do it."

All of Colorado's runs came via the long ball. Tulowitzki hit a two-run shot in the third, and Carlos Gonzalez led off the fifth with a solo shot. Tulowitzki finished the day 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Fowler was 3-for-5 with two singles and the homer.

NOTES: Eight Brewers made their first appearance on an Opening Day roster. ... Rockies first baseman Todd Helton started his 16th consecutive opening day, the longest active streak in baseball ... Aoki's first home run of 2012 also came off Chacin; an inside-the-park homer April 20 of that year. ... Chacin is the third-youngest opening day starting pitcher in Rockies' history.
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