07/26/2003 10:58 PM ET
Cook quiets Brewers offense in win
Colorado comes back from 8-5 deficit for 13-8 victory
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook doesn't care if his success Saturday night, and his trend of pitching better out of the bullpen than as a starter, leads to a new career path.
"I just hope my career path is pitching in the big leagues, that's all," said Cook, who replaced struggling starter Denny Stark in the fourth inning and pitched 2 1/3 key scoreless innings in a 13-8 Rockies victory at Coors Field in front of 40,675.
Cook (4-6) had pitched himself out of the starting rotation and into Triple-A earlier this season. But on Saturday, he fashioned his third scoreless inning in his last four relief appearances and improved his bullpen ERA to 3.68.
His efforts were key to the Rockies' fourth victory in five games, their second triumph over Milwaukee in two nights and their eighth straight home win over the Brewers. Cook was as much a Rockies driving force as Preston Wilson, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers.
Wilson's first was a two-run shot in the third inning, and the second gave Wilson 100 RBIs for the season. Wilson reached the century mark in 107 games, one game quicker than Andres Galarraga's previous Rockies record in 1997. But Cook's one-hit work when the game was in doubt was the start of 5 1/3 scoreless innings from the Colorado bullpen.
"Aaron has shown some real good signs since he's moved to the bullpen," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "His command has improved. He's focused. He's been more aggressive.
"Obviously, he came in at a critical point for us. He put up a zero, and there wasn't a zero on the board until the fifth for either side."
Stark was coming off his best start of the season, when he held Los Angeles to one run in seven innings of a victory. He was touched for 11 hits, including homers by John Vander Wal and Richie Sexson, and gave up eight runs and a career-high 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The Rockies fell behind, 8-5, on Sexson's three-run homer on Stark's final pitch. Stark appreciated what happened after he left the game.
"With the exception of myself, everybody played a real good game," said Stark, who was trying to waste an 0-2 pitch but got it over the plate and saw Sexson knock it over the left-field wall. "The bullpen came in and stopped them. Our hitting and defense came in and was able to take the lead and hold onto the lead."
Cook worked John Vander Wal into a groundout on the first pitch. Like that, the Brewers were stopped.
"I think the difference coming out of the bullpen for me, which is going to make a big difference if I ever get to start again, is just being aggressive, making my pitches, not worrying about what the hitter is going to do," Cook said.
Cook struck out one and gave up one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Brian Fuentes, Steve Reed and Adam Bernero completed an effort from a bullpen that has held opponents to six earned runs in 32 innings since the All-Star break.
Wilson's first homer came off Milwaukee starter Matt Kinney, who gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings and couldn't take advantage of Stark's troubles. The second, off Dave Burba, cut Milwaukee's lead to 8-6.
Larry Walker, who tied a club record by walking four times, knocked an RBI single in the sixth to cut the difference to 8-7. Jay Payton added a two-run single to give Colorado the lead and Bobby Estalella made it 10-7 with a sacrifice fly. All of the damage was charged to losing pitcher Valerio De Los Santos (1-3).
The Rockies finished with the most runs in any game this season, but tied a season mark by leaving 14 on base. However, Colorado had so many chances partly because hitters walked 12 times. The Rockies entered the game second in the National League in walks behind the Philadelphia.
"Our bullpen was magnificent tonight, they've been on a tremendous roll," Hurdle said. "Our offense was relentless."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.