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First batter the toughest for Brothers

First batter the toughest for Brothers

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First batter the toughest for Brothers

DENVER -- Rex Brothers has made things especially difficult for himself recently.

Brothers, who has assumed the closer role for the Rockies with Rafael Betancourt on the disabled list, has struggled to get the first batter out, often putting a runner on base before he turns into his usually dominant self.

In the 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday night, Brothers served up a leadoff single to Neil Walker, and then a double to Tony Sanchez, leaving runners at second and third with one out. Though Brothers escaped with the save, opponents are hitting .435 with five doubles off Brothers on the first pitch, the first hitter batting .283 with two homers and three doubles.

But Rockies manager Walt Weiss offered an explanation for Brothers' issues early in the ninth.

"The few innings that he's had where some guys got some hits off him, I think it's been a case where batters don't want to go deep into counts with him," Weiss said. "And so he's given up some hits on first-pitch fastballs where guys have ambushed him. They don't want to hang around for that slider. He's trying to get strike one, and they barrel it up. I think that's what's happened more than anything else."

Brothers, who owns a 1.49 ERA, has weathered the storms he has created, converting nine straight saves despite allowing three runs over his last eight appearances.

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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