Mills goes deep twice in split-squad defeat

Mills goes deep twice in split-squad defeat

Mills goes deep twice in split-squad defeat
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Troy Tulowitzki collected three hits and Chris Nelson continued his audition for the open third-base job, helping lead the Rockies to a 6-3 Cactus League victory over the Indians on Thursday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.

Indians closer Chris Perez, who has spent the bulk of Spring Training recovering from a left oblique injury, worked the sixth inning in his Cactus League debut. Perez -- expected to be ready in time for Opening Day -- needed just five pitches to breeze through Colorado hitters Nelson, Colvin and Brandon Wood.

The Rockies came out swinging in the first inning, when Eric Young Jr. led off with a triple against Indians sinkerballer Derek Lowe, and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Marco Scutaro. Tulowitzki added a two-out double, then crossed the plate on a base hit from Ramon Hernandez to put the Tribe behind, 2-0.

Cleveland countered in the third, when first baseman Beau Mills -- the Tribe's top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft -- launched the first of his two solo homers in the game against right-hander Juan Nicasio, the Rockies' likely third or fourth starter. Indians center fielder Michael Brantley added a solo homer off Nicasio in the third to pull the game into a 2-2 tie.

Tribe manager Manny Acta noted that Mills came over from Minor League camp to fill in for Russ Canzler, who left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their child.

"Great day by Beau Mills," Acta said. "That's how things work. One guy goes home because his wife was giving birth and a guy comes in and hits two bombs in Spring Training. That was nice to see."

Lowe, acquired in a trade with the Braves over the winter, exited after turning in three innings for the Indians. The right-hander was charged with two runs on three hits and ended with two strikeouts and no walks. Lowe was replaced by left-hander Chris Seddon, who ran into trouble against Colorado in the fourth.

Acta noted that Lowe left the game early due to a minor back issue.

"Derek threw the ball well, but he had some mid-back spasms," Acta said. "This is not the time to be pushing through stuff like that. We took him out of the game for precautionary reasons. Probably in the middle of the year he would've pitched through it, but this is not the time to mess around with anything like that."

Acta said Lowe might be able to make his next scheduled start as planned. The plan is for the veteran right-hander to pitch against Class A Carolina during Cleveland's exhibition game against the Minor League affiliate on Monday in Zebulon, N.C.

Colorado's Wilin Rosario opened the fourth with a double and Tulowitzki followed by sending a pitch from Seddon into left field for a single. Two batters later, Nelson -- a candidate for Colorado's vacancy at third base -- delivered a two-run double for the Rockies. Tyler Colvin added an RBI single to push Colorado out front, 5-2.

Nicasio allowed two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Rockies, mixing in six strikeouts and three walks.

Up next: Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who has fashioned a 1.69 ERA this spring, will continue his push for the available fifth starter role when the Indians face the Reds in a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt on Friday at Goodyear Ballpark. Gomez is up against Kevin Slowey for the only vacancy in the rotation. Bullpen hopeful Dan Wheeler is also scheduled to pitch for the Indians, along with relievers Vinnie Pestano and Rafael Perez.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.