Nicasio shines as Rockies beat Braves, 3-1, in Atlanta
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki each homered, Juan Nicasio solved the Braves and the Colorado Rockies beat Atlanta 3-1 on Saturday.
The Rockies were missing some of their big bats as Carlos Gonzalez missed his third straight start with a swollen finger and Nolan Arenado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger.
Nicasio (5-2) didn’t need much offense. The right-hander turned around his ugly history against the Braves — 0-3 and 9.82 ERA in four starts. He gave up only two hits in six shutout innings. Nicasio pitched around four walks and had five strikeouts.
Atlanta’s Mike Minor (2-3) allowed three runs on four hits — including the two homers — in 6 2-3 innings.
Trailing 3-0, the Braves tried to rally against the Rockies’ bullpen in the eighth. B.J. Upton singled off Boone Logan and moved to third on Freddie Freeman’s double down the right field line. Justin Upton’s fly to right field off Adam Ottavino drove in B.J. Upton as Freeman advanced to third. Ottavino struck out Evan Gattis to end the inning.
LaTroy Hawkins, who had given up at least one run in each of his last three appearances, earned his 11th save with a perfect ninth inning.
Cuddyer hit a 3-0 pitch from Minor over the left field wall to lead off the second. It was his second homer in two days.
Tulowitzki led off the sixth with another homer to left field.
The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the third on Nicasio’s walks to Jason Heyward and Freeman and a single by B.J. Upton. Justin Upton ended the inning with a foul popup caught by first baseman Justin Morneau.
Atlanta didn’t manage another hit off Nicasio until Justin Upton’s double with one out in the sixth. Nicasio retired the next two batters.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss successfully challenged home plate umpire Lance Barksdale’s call that Charlie Culberson was tagged out at the plate in the seventh. Culberson, who hit a leadoff double and moved to third on D.J. LeMahieu’s groundout, tried to score on pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon’s grounder to first base. Following Freeman’s throw to the plate, Culberson slid head-first with his left hand reaching for the plate as Gattis applied the tag.
The call was overturned following the lengthy review — 4 minutes, 14 seconds.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who was pulled from Friday night’s game by manager Fredi Gonzalez for losing his temper after a strikeout, was 0 for 4 in his return to the lineup.
Gonzalez said Johnson put himself, his teammates and others — including Gonzalez — in danger by losing his temper. Gonzalez confirmed he and catcher Gerald Laird were caught in the crossfire when Johnson broke his bat.
Johnson has a history of similar outbursts and vowed he wouldn’t have another incident.
NOTES: The Rockies recalled INF Josh Rutledge from Triple-A Colorado Springs. … The homer by Tulowitzki was the first in 71 career plate appearances at Turner Field. … Gattis returned to Atlanta’s lineup after missing four games with viral symptoms. … Carlos Gonzalez missed his third straight start with a swollen left index finger.
… The series ends Sunday when Braves RHP Julio Teheran faces Rockies LHP Franklin Morales.
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