Rockies' Rusch strikes out four, secures first win in two years

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- After missing last season recovering from a blood clot in his lung, Glendon Rusch is just happy to get back on the mound in a major league game.

Colorado gave him that chance Wednesday night and he won in his first start in exactly two years, leading the Rockies to an 8-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers

"This whole year has been pretty special for me, just to come back and play," Rusch (2-3) said after giving up one run in six innings. "To come back and get a win as a starter, I don't even know how long it's been."

It was July 9, 2006, when Rusch beat the Brewers in his last start for the Chicago Cubs. He's made only one start since, taking a loss on May 31 for Colorado this year.

The left-hander pitched 12 games in relief for San Diego early in the season before being released. He was signed by the Rockies and recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday, just in time to dazzle the Brewers, who were 20-8 against left-handers coming into the game.

"We got a great start from Rusch," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "If you had told me before the game he'd give us six innings and give up only one run, and we'd be winning 3-1, I'd say 'Good for us.'

"He retired 11 of his last 12," Hurdle said. "Just what we needed."

The journeyman outdueled Ben Sheets, who struck out a season-high 11 over six innings. The right-hander (10-3) gave up three runs, five hits and two walks.

"You know you are going to have a tough time anytime you face him," said Rusch, who was Sheets' teammate with Milwaukee in 2002-03. "I know what kind of pitcher he is. You know you probably aren't going to have a big inning against him. We scraped a couple runs out against him late."

Rusch scattered five hits and had four strikeouts with no walks.

Garrett Atkins hit two home runs and had a single for Colorado.

Sheets recorded his first seven outs by swinging strikeout, giving up only a single to Matt Holliday and a walk to Chris Iannetta the first time through the Rockies' batting order. He left the game after throwing 110 pitches.

Atkins said the Rockies didn't mind striking out so much since it quickly elevated Sheets' pitch count.

"He was striking all of us out, but he was getting his pitch count up and couldn't go too long at that pace," Atkins said. "When you strike everybody out you have to throw a lot of pitches to do that. The guys did a good job of fouling some balls off. Even though he struck guys out, it took him five or six pitches to do it."

The Rockies led 4-3 going into the eighth, then took control with four runs off struggling reliever Guillermo Mota.

Atkins hit his second homer of the game, and 14th this season, with one out to make it 5-3.

"Atkins is killing us," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

Brad Hawpe followed with a single, and Iannetta was credited with a triple when his line drive bounced past center fielder Mike Cameron and rolled to the wall, giving the Rockies a 6-3 lead. Joe Koshansky followed with a two-run homer.

In his last 12 appearances dating to June 6, Mota is 0-3 and has given up 14 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Bill Hall hit a solo homer in the second to give Milwaukee the lead, but the Rockies came back with a run in the fifth and Atkins' two-run shot off Sheets in the sixth.

"I had my stuff throughout the game, I just made a (bad) pitch," Sheets said. "It wasn't like I got any worse. My stuff was good the whole time."

Game notes
Holliday singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. ... Before the game, the Rockies placed OF Ryan Spilborghs on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle. The team recalled OF Seth Smith from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... The Brewers' bullpen had given up one earned run in 17 2/3 innings over the past five games before allowing five to Colorado.