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Sheets leaves with injury, but Graffanino wins it for Brewers

Jul 15, 2007 - 3:47 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- The Milwaukee Brewers have to deal with another injury to Ben Sheets, but thanks to Geoff Jenkins and pinch hitter Tony Graffanino, they were able to avoid the insult.

Graffanino hit a bloop single to center field over a drawn-in infield in the 10th inning to score Jenkins and give the Brewers a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

Jenkins hit a leadoff double off LaTroy Hawkins (0-4) and advanced to third on groundout before scoring the winning run.

"I knew I got enough of it, that it was hopefully going to reach the outfield grass," Graffanino said. "It was big with Sheeter going down."

Rookie Yovani Gallardo allowed just an infield single in 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief after Sheets exited in the top of the fourth inning with a sprained right middle finger.

"The effort Gallardo gave us was huge," Graffanino said. "A lot of things happened to make that win possible. It was a good one for the whole team."

After closer Francisco Cordero worked the ninth, Derrick Turnbow (2-3) pitched a scoreless 10 to pick up the win.

Sheets' injury occurred on the ninth pitch of Todd Helton's at-bat with one out in the fourth. The righthander winced in pain immediately after throwing the pitch and again when the trainer came out to see him.

Gallardo came out of the bullpen to face Helton with a full count and struck out the veteran first baseman looking. He finished with four strikeouts in his third career relief appearance.

Milwaukee's top pitching prospect, Gallardo was called up on June 14 when Chris Capuano went on the disabled list. When Capuano returned on July 3, Gallardo was sent to the bullpen.

The eight warmup pitches allowed to relievers that come in because of injury were anything but normal to Gallardo.

"That was the first time I've ever done that, warming up on the field," Gallardo said. "It was different. You've just got to go out there and pitch the same way you've been throwing."

The oft-injured Sheets took his recent setback in stride.

"I knew what Yo (Gallardo) had in him today, so I thought, 'I'm gonna let this kid get in there,'" Sheets said jokingly. "I'm optimisic. I think I'll be all right. Hopefully, we'll be smart, and in five days, you can go about your business."

Sheets, who pitched in Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Francisco, is 10-4 with a 3.39 ERA. He has missed parts of three previous seasons due to various injuries, including two stints on the disabled list in 2006, and never has won more than 12 games in a campaign.

Gallardo's performance overshadowed a terrific outing by Rockies starter Rodrigo Lopez who carried a no-hitter into the sixth. The only hit Lopez allowed in seven innings was Corey Hart's home run, which came on a 2-2 pitch with two outs and the game tied at 1-1.

The righthander, who had not pitched past the sixth inning in any of his previous four starts, struck out five and walked two.

"It was a tough one," Lopez said. "I can't remember the last time I threw a one-hitter through seven innings. It's too bad we came out with the loss."

The Rockies, who lost for just the second time in eight games, took an early lead on a solo homer to left by Ryan Spilborghs in the third inning.

"It was a real clean outing for Rodrigo," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "One mistake, the home run to Hart, a slider that got too much of the plate. He pitched very effectively. That should give him a lot of confidence going into his next start."