Gonzalez's bloop single lifts Rockies past Braves 3-2
DENVER (AP) Carlos Gonzalez's towering home run made an impression. His fly ball to shallow center made the difference.
Gonzalez hit a bases-loaded bloop single that dropped between charging center fielder Cameron Maybin and backpedaling shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the ninth inning Saturday, driving in the decisive run in the Colorado Rockies' 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
''I knew it had a chance'' to fall in, Gonzalez said. ''It was perfect, just good enough to get the winning run. I'll take that every day.''
Misfortune befell the Braves at the outset of the rally by the Rockies, who have won their last five games against Atlanta.
Reliever Jason Grilli (3-4) tumbled to the ground and suffered a ruptured left Achilles' tendon as he ran toward first to cover the bag when Drew Stubbs, the first batter he faced, hit a grounder that first baseman Chris Johnson ranged to his right to field.
Grilli appeared to take a bad step and crumpled to the ground, grabbing his lower left leg in pain. Stubbs was safe on what was ruled a hit. Team trainers and manager Fredi Gonzalez ran on to the field to tend to Grilli, who remained on the ground for several minutes. He was helped to his feet, taken away on a cart for further treatment and replaced by David Aardsma.
The team said in a tweet after the game that Grilli was expected to miss the rest of the season.
''The pain he was in on the field was cruel,'' Fredi Gonzalez said.
Charlie Blackmon was hit by a pitch and after Nolan Arenado struck out, Troy Tulowitzki walked to load the bases. Gonzalez, who hit a towering drive that cleared the center field wall earlier, lofted a fly ball to shallow center that the Braves simply couldn't get to before it fell with Stubbs coming in to score the winning run.
''I had three strikeouts going into that at bat so I'm just trying to find a way to get on base, to get the next guy up and to help us win a ball game,'' said Tulowitzki, who learned after the game that he had been named to his fifth All Star game as an injury replacement. ''Sure enough, I did that, and we got some luck on that last play.''
Tulowitzki went hitless on the day, snapping his career-long 21 game hitting streak. But he reached base with the walk, and now has reached base in a career high 37 straight games.
''The history was fun while it lasted,'' Tulowitzki, referring to the end of his hitting streak, which was the longest in the majors this season. ''My teammates had fun with it. I had a good time with it.''
LaTroy Hawkins (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the victory.
The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but couldn't convert against reliever Christian Friedrich, who induced Simmons to fly out to shallow center and struck out Ryan Lavarnway, who homered earlier.
''We had opportunities,'' Jonny Gomes said after the Braves lost their fourth in a row, including three to the Rockies heading into Sunday's series finale. ''It's an interesting ballpark. They hit some triples over our head. Blooped some in. I've been here before and there isn't a method to the madness.''
Matt Wisler settled down to pitch six solid innings after being jolted in the first by Gonzalez's two-out, two run homer that soared into the stand of evergreens beyond the center field wall. Gonzalez hit a homer to nearly the same place the night before.
Atlanta set its rotation for the second half of the season with Julio Teheran scheduled to start next Friday against the Chicago Cubs when play resumes following the All-Star break. He'll be followed by Manny Banuelos, Shelby Miller, Matt Wisler and Alex Wood.
SHORT AND PRODUCTIVE STAY
The Rockies recalled Rex Brothers from their Triple A affiliate in Albuquerque before the game, making roster room for him by designating for assignment left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey. Brothers has spent much of the previous four seasons with the Rockies. Laffey spent one day with the Rockies but it was long enough to get the win pitching in relief Friday night despite allowing a three-run homer in Colorado's 5-3 victory over the Braves. It was his first major league appearance since April 26, 2013, and first win since Sept. 25, 2012.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood (6-5) returns to the mound to start Sunday's series finale after throwing just two pitches in Thursday's rain-delayed opener. He replaced LHP Manny Banuelos.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (4-4) will look to bounce back after allowing a career-high 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels.