DENVER -- The deciding hit in the Rockies' 5-4 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday was pinch-hitter Jody Gerut's double down the right-field line against left-handed reliever Randy Flores.

Gerut's hit was not hard at all. It was a dribbler that went just past diving first baseman Jason Giambi. But any big hit off a lefty raises questions about when Joe Beimel will be activated.

Beimel signed late in Spring Training and pitched three scoreless Cactus League games, but manager Jim Tracy determined that it wasn't enough to allow him to start the season in the Majors. Beimel will essentially continue his Spring Training, in Tucson and when he joins Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"When I sat with Joe Beimel in Albuquerque to tell him that we needed him to go to Triple-A and pitch a few more times, Joe didn't agree with me and told me so," Tracy said. "I'm fine with that. I explained my reasoning for it and he said to me, 'Trace, I don't agree with it, but I'm going to do it.' And I said to him, 'The fact that you don't agree with it, you're allowed to do that with me.'"

The results haven't been good for Flores, who gave up two hits and walked one, with one strikeout, in two appearances against the Brewers, but the confidence is there. He also feels the pitches are there.

"You get a groundball and a strikeout [Wednesday], you'll take that line more often than not," Flores said.

Rox hope to cut K's as season progresses

DENVER -- The Rockies spent all Spring Training developing a team-wide hitting approach of staying in the middle of the field and making adjustments to put the ball in play with two strikes.

Carlos Gonzalez (8-for-15), Todd Helton (5-for-10) and Ian Stewart (4-for-10, two home runs) produced consistently strong at-bats in the opening three-game series in Milwaukee. However, the Rockies went 1-2 against the Brewers and entered Friday's home opener against the Padres with 25 strikeouts.

Strikeouts were an issue whether the Rockies were playing well or poorly last season. They finished second in the National League to the D-backs in that potentially damaging category.

"We're trying to cut down on the strikeouts, but we haven't done that very well yet," Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor said. "I think that comes with a lot of jitters, guys expecting to do well.

"We had a good spring with that approach. We're not going to change."

Colorado's Hammel enjoying new home

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel, who will start Saturday night against the Padres, stayed in Tucson, Ariz., during the season-opening series and threw a five-inning controlled game that he said went well. Hammel said he threw 15 pitches per inning.

Hammel's numbers were better at the beginning of the Cactus League season than at the end, but he enters his first start with confidence.

"All pitchers go through a little funk in Spring Training -- the arm doesn't' feel right and you hit a little dead-arm stage," Hammel said. "But I'm not worried about it at all. I'm ready to start making them count. It's good to be back with the fellows."

Hammel joined Colorado in a trade with Tampa Bay at the start of last season and struggled initially at home. But the Rockies won 10 of his final 12 starts of the season at Coors.

"It's home," Hammel said. "It took awhile to make it feel like home, but it ended up balancing itself out. I hope that the numbers aren't as skewed as last year, but it's a new season. Last year, I was able to discover myself as a pitcher and pitch with more confidence as the year went on."

Good night for Minor League pitching

DENVER -- The Rockies consider pitching the strength of their Minor League system, and Thursday night -- opening night in most leagues -- was an example.

Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin pitched five scoreless, one-hit innings, struck out six and walked one in Triple-A Colorado Springs' 2-0 victory at Tacoma.

Left-hander Christian Friedrich took the loss as Double-A Tulsa fell to Corpus Christi, 7-0, but Friedrich gave up one run and four hits in six innings.

High Class A Modesto's Juan Nicasio gave up five hits and two runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-2 victory over San Jose.

In another Minor League note, Colorado Springs placed catcher Paul Lo Duca on the seven-day disabled list to start the season because of a right-shoulder strain. Lo Duca originally suffered the injury in Spring Training.