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Rusch takes one for team

Rusch takes one for team

DENVER -- The Rockies' bullpen was in good shape against the Astros on Thursday, even if it didn't look the part Wednesday night.

In 5 1/3 innings, three Colorado relievers gave up six earned runs and 14 hits. Left-hander Glendon Rusch bore the brunt of the damage, giving up all six runs and 12 of the hits in 2 2/3 innings. Despite the less than stellar line, Rusch fulfilled his job admirably and saved some of the other relievers.

"You would like to see better results," manager Clint Hurdle said. "But he did give us a service as far as keeping us away from [Matt] Daley, from [Alan] Embree and from [Huston] Street."

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The rough outing Rusch endured could pay dividends against the Astros in Thursday's series finale. The Rockies started right-hander Jason Hammel, who has compiled a 10.80 ERA in three home appearances.

"It's huge to keep everyone as fresh as possible down there, especially coming into a day like today," Rusch said. "We're going to need those guys in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings to hopefully hold a lead for Hammel."

Rusch's role has usually been to serve as long reliever and eat up as many innings as possible. In 11 relief appearances this season, Rusch has gone at least two innings five times. Rusch's bullpen mates think his role is critical to the team's success, especially since the Rockies don't take a day off until May 28.

"I think mainly a guy like Glendon Rusch," Street said, "is a guy who is always ready, always ready to do what's best for the team. I think his ability to go out there and pitch in some pretty tough circumstances, not only does it saves our team, our bullpen and our staff, but it saves us for [the next 14 games in a row].

"His ability to go out there and continue to battle, battle and battle, it means a lot to all of us as players no matter what the results are."

Rusch has made at least one relief appearance in nine of his 11 big league seasons. He knows his way around a pitching staff. Over the years, he's learned about the responsibilities and the nuances of his role.

"I think that they count on me as a guy with experience," Rusch said. "That's my job, and everyone within these walls understands what it's all about to do that. Sometimes, you have just have to bite the bullet like I did last night.

"The one thing I've learned in this role is the most important thing is to be aggressive. I have to throw strikes, limit my walks and make guys put the ball in play."

The sacrifice Rusch makes for the team hardly goes unnoticed.

"Glendon is a guy," Street said, "that, time and time again, does it without the praise and he doesn't make any kind of big deal about it. He just gets the job done. It's a true testament to who he is as a player."

Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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