MLB

Braves-Rockies Preview

The Colorado Rockies have disappointed during the season's first half, but they've put themselves in position to head into the All-Star break on a positive note.

They'll look to finish off a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at Coors Field.

Colorado (38-49) is a non-factor in the playoff picture as it stands, currently 8 1/2 games out of the NL's second wild-card spot. However, after a 3-2 victory Saturday, the Rockies can match a season high with a fourth straight win and their first-ever four-game sweep of Atlanta (42-46)

They're batting .357 over the last four games, and Carlos Gonzalez clinched Saturday's win with a ninth-inning single. Gonzalez, who homered for the second straight day, is 12 for 25 with three home runs and four doubles in his last six games. Charlie Blackmon is 14 for 31 in his last seven after going 3 for 4 with a triple.

Keeping Colorado's lineup in check represents the final first-half assignment for starter Alex Wood (6-5, 3.34 ERA). Wood is taking the mound three days after throwing two pitches in Thursday's 5-3 loss, not returning after a 2 hour, 6 minute rain delay.

"I was pretty surprised that they wanted us to start that game, but that's the way it goes," said the left-hander, who is 4-2 with a 2.11 ERA over his last seven road starts. "You've just got to deal with it and move on and I look forward to taking the ball on Sunday."

Wood won his only other start against Colorado, allowing three runs over seven innings in an 11-3 home victory July 30, 2013.

The Rockies' nine homers against lefties are the second-fewest in the majors, though Nolan Arenado took Wood deep in their matchup two years ago. Troy Tulowitzki, whose hitting streak was snapped at 21 games Saturday, is 14 for 28 off lefties since May 29.

There's some uncertainty behind Wood after Jason Grilli tore his Achilles in the ninth inning Saturday. Grilli, who is out for the season, suffered the injury while attempting to cover first base.

Grilli, who took the loss after being charged with the go-ahead run, has converted 24 of 26 save opportunities with a 2.94 ERA. He's been one of the few highlights amid a terrible bullpen, which owns a 4.30 ERA that ranks near the bottom of baseball.

Jim Johnson might be the top candidate to slide into the closer role. Though he has converted only five of eight save opportunities, he owns a 15 2-3 innings scoreless streak and recorded 101 saves for Baltimore from 2012-13.

Chad Bettis (4-4, 4.95) gets the ball for Colorado trying to bounce back from the worst outing of his career. He gave up 10 runs and eight hits - including four homers - over 2 1-3 innings in a 10-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. The four homers matched what he had allowed in 61 1-3 innings on the season.

"Chad had been one of our most consistent starters and had been throwing the ball really well for us," manager Walt Weiss said. "He had a lot of balls in the middle of the plate, belt high, and they didn't miss them."

Bettis lost his only start against Atlanta, surrendering five runs in five innings in an 11-2 road defeat Aug. 1, 2013.

These teams were a combined 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position Saturday.

Colorado's five-game winning streak in the series is its longest ever.

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