John Axford sat at his locker and even cracked a joke to lighten the mood.

What he couldn't do is explain what just happened. With Thursday off, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave Axford work in the ninth inning with Milwaukee trailing 4-3.

The Brewers' closer gave up three runs on five hits - including two home runs - while recording just two outs in Milwaukee's 7-3 loss to Colorado.

It hasn't been the start to the season Axford has wanted in his attempt to bounce back from an up-and-down year in 2012. In the season opener Monday, Axford blew the save when Dexter Fowler hit a two-out solo home run on a first-pitch fastball.

One thing noticeable has been the drop in Axford's velocity. His fastball has sat in the 91-93 miles per hour range, down from the usual 94-96.

"I feel fine," Axford said. "I don't know what to say, I don't know."

It's a notion around baseball that closers don't pitch well in non-closing situations, which Wednesday's outing was. Axford doesn't feel he approaches such outings any differently.

"I don't think I've ever made it one," Axford said. "You want to go out there with the same intensity and the same enthusiasm no matter what the situation. It was a one-run ballgame right there. If I put up a zero right there we have a good opportunity to win the game in the ninth, especially with our offense. I didn't come through. I didn't do my job of holding it there."

It wasn't just Axford that struggled against Colorado. Milwaukee's pitching staff allowed 41 hits and eight home runs in the three-game series. None of the three starting pitchers made it past the sixth inning, putting an early toll on the bullpen.

"We need to pitch better," Roenicke said. "The starters, and the relievers need to. We need to get ahead of people. I know it's early but we still need to pitch better."