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Colorado offense rolls in opening series

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- There were two big questions for the Rockies and Brewers heading into the season: Could Colorado translate its offensive abilities away from the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, and could Milwaukee find enough pitching to bolster its formidable offense?

Three games into the season, at least one team has something close to an answer.

The Rockies belted out 15 hits, including three home runs, in a 7-3 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night at Miller Park.

In winning the first series of the season two games to one, the Rockies collected 41 hits and hit eight home runs, an encouraging sign for first-year manager Walt Weiss.

"I felt all spring that this is going to be a good offensive club," Weiss said. "It's only three games and you have to be careful, but we're a good offensive club and have a lot of good players."

Weiss' pitching staff held up its end, as well. Starter Juan Nicasio overcame a shaky start but settled down and went six innings, holding the Brewers to just two runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He retired six of his final seven batters.

"In the first inning, I threw a lot of balls because I was excited and I tried too much," Nicasio said. "Then I started pitching to contact. I said, 'I know I have 30 pitches, so I'm going to try to for 10 per inning.'

"I threw my fastball inside, away, and nobody can hit my fastball. The hitter needs to show me he can hit my fastball inside. If he does, OK, I'm going to throw my breaking ball. But if nobody can hit it, I'm going to throw it."

The victory was Nicasio's first of the season and the first of his career on the road.

"He's firing strikes," Weiss said. "He's got a great arm. When he's in good counts, he's going to be tough to get to. This is a great win for him. I'm proud of him. All the stuff he's been through ... this has to be a great feeling for him."

Colorado's Wilin Rosario hit a two-run homer in the second, but Brewers starter Wily Peralta retired seven of his next nine batters before allowing a leadoff double to Jordan Pacheco in the fifth.

He followed by getting Josh Rutlege to ground out to short, but Reid Brignac followed with a single, putting the Rockies up 3-2. After Nicasio's sacrifice moved Brignac to third, Brignac scored on Eric Young's single to left.

Peralta, one of Milwaukee's top pitching prospects, went 5 1/3 innings in his season debut, allowing four runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

"He's got great stuff," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, "but he's got to learn to get it over the plate. At times, his sinker was great -- 95-96 (mph) and down in the zone -- but consistently, he couldn't repeat his pitches. His slider was basically not there."

Despite Peralta's struggles, he left the game with his team down by just one run.

With two outs in the third, the Brewers got to Nicasio when Rickie Weeks hit his first home run of the season. Ryan Braun then walked, moved to third on Aramis Ramirez's third double in as many games and scored on Alex Gonzalez's single to left, tying the game at 2-2.

Milwaukee could have taken the lead on the play, but Carlos Gonzalez's throw home gave Rosario, the Rockies' catcher, just enough time to leap and tag a sliding Ramirez, ending the inning.

The Brewers added a run in the seventh, cutting the Rockies' lead to 4-3 on back-to-back, two-out doubles by Weeks and Braun before Chris Volstad struck out Ramirez to end the inning.

"I saw him so much last year being in the same division," said Volstad, who pitched last season with Cincinnati. "You kind of try to remember how you've worked guys before and how I had been throwing in the inning, a lot of sinkers. Just wanted to locate that curveball."

Milwaukee wouldn't challenge again.

"We were battling," Roenicke said. "We scratch out some runs, then turn around and give them up in a hurry. That's hard to keep up the pressure on the other guys when they keep coming back and scoring runs."

Colorado looked to add to its lead in the eighth, but Braun made a perfect throw to catcher Martin Maldonado to retire Carlos Gonzalez, who was trying to score on Rutledge's two-out single.

With the score still 4-3 Colorado, Milwaukee's John Axford came on to work the ninth and allowed a two-run home run to Michael Cuddyer and a solo shot to Dexter Fowler -- his second of the season off Axford -- for the final margin.

NOTES: Brewers pitchers have recorded 30 strikeouts while walking just seven in the first three games. ... Carlos Gonzalez is the third player in Rockies history to start a season with two hits and two runs in each of their first two games. ... Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura has five hits in the Brewers' first three games after batting .367 (22-for-60) during spring training.
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