Todd Helton was unable to play for the second consecutive day Friday, his lower back still feeling the effects of a hard slide Wednesday at Philadelphia.
In his absence, Jason Giambi started at first base Friday in Milwaukee, something that might have happened anyway after Giambi hit three homers in a game for the first time in his career Thursday at Philadelphia.
Giambi homered again Friday, a solo shot in the sixth inning that gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead. But Colorado ended up blowing four leads and losing 7-6 in 14 innings.
Felipe Paulino, the only reliever left in the bullpen, came on in the bottom of the 14th after the Rockies took a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning. He issued a five-pitch walk to Ryan Braun, then yielded a first-pitch, two-run, walk-off homer to Prince Fielder. It was the first blown save for Paulino, who is 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA. In 14 2/3 innings, Paulino has allowed 30 baserunners.
If Paulino is clinging precariously to his spot on the roster, Giambi, 40, has solidified his by hitting four homers in his past two games. Prior to those games, he was 3-for-26 this season, mired in an 0-for-18 slump and hitless since April 10.
Because he's a left-handed hitter and can only play first base, Giambi, as was the case last year, has the same skill set as Helton. But he seems better prepared to come off the bench and hit after acclimating to that role last year. He has raised his average to .200 (7-for-35) in 16 games with five homers. Last year, Giambi hit six homers in 176 at-bats over 86 games.
His homer Friday gave Giambi 1,377 RBI, passing Hall of Famer Johnny Bench (1,376) to move into 74th all-time. Giambi batted fourth with regular cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki moving up to third for the first time this season.
Manager Jim Tracy said it made sense to start Giambi against Zack Greinke -- Giambi is now 7-for-21 with five homers and 11 RBI vs. the right-hander -- but he isn't about to ask too much from Giambi.
"Exploring this option obviously makes sense for tonight, but you're not going to see me start to ride him," Tracy said. "Obviously, we're waiting for Todd to come back, but even if that wasn't the situation we were talking about, you can't ride this guy so much where you run him into the ground. You give him enough and realize what his responsibility is on this ballclub, and you do your very best to stay within that framework.
"If you overdo it, all you have to do is go back a few years to Oakland where they were pulling him out of a cold tub and he wouldn't even come out on the field to take batting practice. That's how worn down he had gotten."
The Rockies signed Giambi after the A's released him in 2009. Oakland played him at first base more than it originally planned due to injuries and ended up releasing him after Giambi played 83 games and hit .193 in 328 at-bats.
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