Kyle Freeland sparkles as Rockies top Brewers 2-0 to avoid sweep

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MILWAUKEE — Kyle Freeland capitalized on a long break between starts to make some changes that helped him break out of his slump.

Freeland pitched four-hit ball over seven innings, Daniel Bard worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and the Colorado Rockies avoided a four-game sweep with a 2-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.

“Tonight was a breath of fresh air for me, to be able to get back on track,” Freeland said.

Freeland had posted an 8.44 ERA in his three previous July starts. He hadn’t pitched since July 14, when he lasted just four innings in an 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. After getting removed from that game, he grabbed a bat and struck the light on the dugout ceiling several times to shatter it before tossing the bat away.

He used the All-Star break to figure out what was going wrong with his mechanics.

“I made some adjustments in my last bullpen after my last start, threw another one right after the break as well, and continued to make those adjustments,” Freeland said. “Those adjustments paid off tonight.”

Freeland got help from Elias Diaz, who continued his hot streak with a homer as the Rockies beat the Brewers for the first time in their last nine meetings. The Rockies had defeated the Brewers seven straight times before this stretch.

After failing to get a runner beyond first base through the first eight innings, the Brewers nearly came all the way back in the ninth.

Christian Yelich hit a leadoff single. Willy Adames followed with a potential double-play grounder, but the Rockies failed to get anyone out as second baseman Brendan Rodgers bobbled the ball and threw late to first.

Bard retired Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe before walking Rowdy Tellez to move the tying run to second and put the potential winning run at first. Rodgers then snared Luis Urias’ liner to help Bard earn his 21st save in 23 opportunities.

“That was a bullet, and that ball had a little bit of sinking action,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That was a tough play because it’s hot coming off the bat with, like I said, some sinking action. That was a nice play. That was good for him, to bounce back. That was a tougher play than what it might have appeared on real time or on TV.”

The Brewers totaled 25 runs while winning the first three games of this series, but they had no answers for Freeland (5-7). The Rockies left-hander struck out seven and allowed one walk.

Freeland needed to be virtually flawless to beat Aaron Ashby, who was making his first start since getting engaged on July 18 and signing a five-year, $20.5 million contract with the Brewers on Saturday.

Ashby (2-8) struck out nine and allowed just five hits, two runs and one walk. He worked seven innings and threw 111 pitches, both career highs.

“Everything felt good,” Ashby said. “I had everything working.”

Ashby allowed a leadoff homer in the third inning to Diaz, whose 398-foot drive over the left-field wall came on an 0-1 slider. Diaz is 13 of 27 over his last six games and went 5 of 11 with five RBIs in this series.

Colorado added a run in the fifth. Garrett Hampson hit a leadoff single, stole second, advanced to third on Charlie Blackmon‘s grounder to second and scored on Yonathan Daza‘s sacrifice fly.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: SS Jose Iglesias fouled a ball off his foot in the top of the second inning. Iglesias finished his at-bat after walking around gingerly for a couple of minutes, but he left the game in the bottom half of the second with a bruised left foot. X-rays were negative. … OF Kris Bryant was out of the lineup due to foot discomfort. Black said it’s been a gradual issue over the last few days. “We’re going to get re-evaluated tomorrow when we get to Denver with our doctors, some specialists and we’ll see where we are,” Black said.

Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell said everything went normally for RHP Freddy Peralta in his first rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Nashville. Peralta hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 22 due to a right lat strain. … RHP Jake Cousins (elbow) is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment in Arizona on Tuesday, while RHP Justin Topa (forearm) pitches for Nashville.

UP NEXT

Rockies: Return home to begin a two-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. Scheduled starters are RHP Michael Kopech (3-6, 3.36 ERA) for the White Sox and RHP German Marquez (6-7, 5.47) for the Rockies.

Brewers: Open a two-game home series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. Probable starters are RHP Dylan Bundy (6-4, 4.71) for the Twins and LHP Ethan Small (0-0, 6.75) for the Brewers.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.