The Brewers lead the National League Central, while the Rockies are 45-46, thus far unable to join the tight race at the top of the NL West. One reason for the Rockies' struggles is that three of their last five road losses, and 12 overall, have been decided by one run.
"We know we had a chance to take at least one more of those games here," said Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, who grounded into two rally-killing double plays. "But we just move on to Pittsburgh, and hopefully take care of business there."
The 10-game road trip, which might not make the season but could break it, continues against the Pirates on Monday night. The Rockies dropped from budding contender to also-ran last season, when they went 2-8 on a road trip out of the All-Star break.
On Sunday, the Rockies had five hits and the Brewers made two errors in the sixth and seventh innings, yet Colorado managed just one run. They had the tying run at third base with one out in the ninth.
Desirable hitters were up each time.
Matt Holliday and Todd Helton singled to open the sixth, but the rally fizzled when Atkins grounded into a double play.
In the seventh, Cory Sullivan's pinch-hit RBI single tied the game at 2, but Holliday grounded into an inning-ending double play against reliever Matt Wise (3-1).
Right fielder Brad Hawpe, who tied Holliday for the team homer lead with 16, made it a one-run game with a solo shot off reliever Derrick Turnbow with two down in the eighth.
Brewers closer Francisco Cordero (28 saves) opened the ninth with a walk and a wild pitch, and a Jamey Carroll sacrifice bunt put a runner at third base.
But Cordero struck out Ryan Spilborghs, who has been a run producer since being called up in May. Kazuo Matsui, who drove in a run in the second inning, knocked a blooper which was caught by right fielder Kevin Mench to end the game.
"We kept coming back, kept battling, but there were a couple chances where a big hit would've given us some distance," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
In the seventh, Brewers leadoff man Geoff Jenkins doubled and pinch-hitter Mench tripled in the go-ahead run. Mench scored on a wild pitch by reliever Jeremy Affeldt (4-2), who had retired 16-of-17 batters before Jenkins' double.
Rockies starter Aaron Cook rebounded from a poor start in the final game before the All-Star break -- an 8-4 home loss to the Phillies -- by holding the Brewers to two runs in six innings.
The runs came with two down in the fifth frame. Brewers starter Jeff Suppan, who also gave up two runs in six-plus innings, tapped an RBI single after Cook had intentionally walked Tony Graffanino. Corey Hart added an RBI single. Still, Cook didn't unravel.
"Sometimes you get caught up in the game," Cook said. "A base hit here, base hit there. Then you try to do too much. Today, I just realized, I was just one good pitch from being out of the inning."