DENVER -- Through the life-threatening moments, the two surgeries and the grueling rehab, Aaron Cook never got ahead of himself, keeping his focus on the present.
The approach allowed Cook to get back to the big leagues a few weeks ago and now it's earned him his first win in a year.
Cook pitched six solid innings for his first win since nearly dying from blood clots in his lungs, Garrett Atkins homered and drove in four runs, and the Colorado Rockies ended a four-game losing streak Monday night with an 11-2 victory over the slumping Milwaukee Brewers.
"I treat every game like I've been here before," Cook said. "I've won in the big leagues before. I know how to do it. It's nice to get the first win of the year out of the way, and hopefully I can stay on a roll and keep pitching well."
With a low-90s fastball and a hard sinker, Cook was expected to be regular in Colorado's rotation, possibly even an ace. But that became an afterthought last August, when big right-hander had to leave a game against Cincinnati because he was feeling dizzy.
At the hospital, Cook was told that he had blood clots in his lungs. Doctors said he was lucky to be alive. Cook had two surgeries to clear up the blood clots, then spent the next seven months getting back into shape.
Cook was tagged for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start after coming off the DL on July 30, then pitched well enough to win his next two outings, only to walk away with no-decisions in both.
Cook made sure he picked up the win this time, working out of a jam in the first inning and settling down more as the game progressed toward a victory for the first time since Aug. 1, 2004. He allowed two runs and nine hits.
"He has handled it very professionally. The level of maturity obviously has risen," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's taken it one day at a time. He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get to low. Hopefully, he's in a comfortable place where he can let his stuff play out because his stuff is pretty good."
Colorado's offense certainly helped, sending Milwaukee to its sixth loss in seven games.
The Rockies managed only four runs against Washington last weekend, setting a record for fewest in a three-game series in Coors Field's 10-year history.
Colorado had one more than that in the fifth inning alone and ended up with 17 hits. Most of the damage came against starter Ben Sheets (8-9), who gave up a career-high 13 hits and matched another career high with 10 runs allowed in six innings.
"It's never fun, especially when you have Benny on the mound -- you're trying to keep the game close and you feel like he's going to keep the game close," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It's just a Coors field game like that, things happen quick. A lot of runs can get on the board in a hurry."
Atkins had an RBI single in Colorado's five-run sixth inning against Sheets, then hit his first homer in 152 at-bats in the seventh, a three-run shot off Justin Lehr to put the Rockies up 11-2.
Todd Helton hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and finished 3-for-5, extending his hitting streak to eight games and raising his average above .300 (.304) for the first time since May 22. The All-Star first baseman is 11-for-25 since coming off his first trip to the disabled list last Wednesday and has raised his average 40 points since July 1.
"I may sleep a little bit better tonight," Helton said. "It's different. I'm a .300 hitter, not a .280 hitter. But I expect not to just hit .300. I expect to hit higher than that."
Sheets pitched nine innings in each of his three previous starts and appeared well on his way to another complete game in the early going.
Hitting the mid-90s with his fastball, Sheets rolled through the first three innings, striking out five of the first 10 batters he faced.
"We were up there hacking like chefs at Benihana's the first three innings," Hurdle said.
Then the Rockies started to figure the big right-hander out.
Luis Gonzalez led off the fourth with a single, then Sheets left a fastball up at the letters to Helton, who ripped it to right for his 13th homer. Matt Holliday followed with a hard single, and Omar Quintanilla hit a bloop single just over third base to put the Rockies up 3-1.
Colorado piled it on in the sixth, scoring five times on a two-run single by Danny Ardoin and RBI singles by Atkins, Dustan Mohr and Larry Bigbie to go up 8-2.
It was the second time in 20 starts Sheets allowed at least five earned runs. He had a single in the fourth inning, his first hit in 37 at-bats this season, but it wasn't enough to make up for the frustration of not being able to get his curveball to break in Denver's dry air.
"They have the ability to take away my curveball and they did a good job of putting my fastball in play later in the game," Sheets said. "Give them credit because they know what the pitcher has out there and they play to it. I only have two weapons, and with one of them taken away, I'm not going to look tougher."
Quintanilla stole second in the fourth inning for his first career stolen base. ... Sheets also gave up more than five earned runs against the Chicago Cubs on June 23. ... Sheets matched Victor Santos' club record for hits allowed set June 6, 2004, against Anaheim. ... Atkins' last homer was June 30 against St. Louis.