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WSH@MIL: Garza hurls seven strong innings

With a walk-off victory on Friday, the Brewers became the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins, and they show no signs of slowing down.

In a stretch of playing seven of 10 games against the Rockies, the Brewers have now won the first five. The Brewers have surged to the largest divisional lead in the Majors, at 5 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Central.

"Baseball is fun when you win," second baseman Rickie Weeks said after Milwaukee reached its midway point Thursday with the club's all-time best 81-game start.

Hoping to build on a stretch of winning nine of their past 12 games to extend their lead on the Cardinals, the Brewers will send Matt Garza to the mound Saturday against the Rockies, who have lost 10 of 11. Garza took a loss in his latest start, allowing three runs, on a three-run homer, in seven innings.

"I wish I could take it back, but it was the right pitch at the time -- I just didn't execute it," Garza said after the outing. "Hang with 'em."

The right-hander, though, has six straight quality starts.

That is something the Rockies are looking for. Through Colorado's recent 11-game, one-win stretch, the starting pitcher has lasted as many as six innings only five times. The short outings have taxed the Rockies' bullpen, and manager Walt Weiss said Friday that longer outings would be a priority.

"That's always helpful when starters can get deeper into games," Weiss said. "If they're not, usually that's a bad sign. If you're having to go to the bullpen early, it's usually not a great recipe for success. We've got a lot of young starters in the rotation feeling their way through it, but they're holding their own."

Several members of the Rockies' original starting rotation are injured, and the team has used a Major League-high 12 starters this season. But relief is in sight: Colorado will send two of its more experienced pitchers to the mound over the final two games of the series in Milwaukee, starting with righty Jhoulys Chacin on Saturday.

"We've still got Jhoulys and Jorge [De La Rosa] in the rotation, and those guys are, I guess you can consider veterans, especially in De La Rosa's case," Weiss said. "It's good to have a couple veterans in there with the kids."

Chacin, who missed the first month of the season with a right shoulder strain, has a 4.84 ERA and 1-6 record. He has lasted into the seventh of each of his four career starts against Milwaukee, though he has a 4.00 ERA against the club.

Rockies: Injuries obscure emphasis on ground balls
Though the Rockies spoke earlier this season about placing an emphasis on inducing ground balls, the team has still given up a Major League-high 100 home runs this season. Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood, two of the best ground-ball pitchers on the team, have both been out with injury since April.

Weiss says the emphasis is still in place, but execution has been difficult because of the number of young pitchers the team has called up.

"We talk about it all the time," Weiss said. "They know it's an emphasis. We talk about it in our meetings. We talk about it in our scouting reports, how to go about putting the ball on the ground; so we haven't wavered in our desire to do that. I think it comes down to executing it. Just too many pitches elevated in the strike zone."

Brewers: Gennett set to start in second-base platoon
With a right-hander on the mound for the only time in this four-game series against the Rockies, second baseman Scooter Gennett will get a chance to be in the lineup at second base.

Gennett has platooned and split time with Rickie Weeks. The 24-year-old Gennett is red-hot, hitting .400 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 21 June games while platooning with Weeks.

"As an everyday guy, like we've both been in the past, you never not want to play," Gennett said. "But if that's our role, that's something we've just got to deal with just like having to deal with the traffic leaving the park. It's just something that's part of our job, and we're just trying to get our work in when we're not playing so that when we do get to play again, we're ready. Three, four, five days off -- that's something you've got to get used to."

Worth noting
• The Rockies rank second in the National League with a .305 average with the bases loaded, trailing only Cincinnati.

• With Friday's walk-off victory, the Brewers have had five three-game home winning streaks this season. Milwaukee will have a chance to set a new season high Saturday against the Rockies. Comments