Charlie Blackmon homered for the third straight game, Raimel Tapia had a go-ahead sacrifice fly and the Colorado Rockies hung on to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 Saturday night.
C.J. Cron also homered for the Rockies.
Ozzie Albies homered for the second time in as many games for the NL East-leading Braves, who remained two games in front of the Philadelphia Phillies. Travis d’Arnaud added a homer in the ninth. It was the fifth consecutive one-run decision for the Braves. They have lost four of them. “We play the same game every day,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve been real successful, but we’re going through a stretch now where we’re not. You weather these storms. You fight through them and you keep working. We’re putting ourselves in a position and it can change just like that, where all of the sudden you’re getting the big hit or you’re getting the big pitch.”
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The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth off Daniel Bard, but Robert Stephenson relieved and limited the damage to a run on Dansby Swanson’s sacrifice fly. He struck out Joc Pederson for the final out of the inning. “That was pivotal,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Bases loaded, one out, up three. One hit there, the game goes a different direction. Good for (Stephenson). That was a big spot.”
Carlos Estévez weathered a one-out solo home run by pinch-hitter d’Arnaud, retiring Albies and Jorge Soler on fly balls to the outfield for his fifth save in nine chances.
With the score tied at 4-all heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies finally broke through against a Braves bullpen that had thrown 10 1/3 scoreless innings to that point in the first three games of the teams’ four-game set.
A.J. Minter (2-5) walked Ryan McMahon to start the inning, and Elías Díaz doubled. Raimel Tapia hit a sacrifice fly and Jesse Chavez relieved. He struck out pinch-hitter Joshua Fuentes, batting for Tyler Kinley (3-2), before giving up an RBI single to Garrett Hampson as the Rockies pulled in front by two runs.
Trevor Story added a run-scoring triple in the bottom of the seventh.
Neither starter figured in the decision, though Germán Márquez executed a suicide squeeze bunt to drive in a second run in the second inning, after Cron led the inning off with his 26th home run.
Blackmon connected for his 13th homer, a two-run drive, in the bottom of the third off Ian Anderson, who went three innings and allowed four runs on five hits. Two of Blackmon’s homers, including his most recent, were to straightaway center and he’s also had a spate of hits with drives toward the middle of the field, a sign he’s making solid contact after struggling to hit the ball consistently earlier in the season.
“Hitting the ball back up the middle is kind of a goal for most hitters; that’s where the pitch is coming from and I want everything to be for the most part, linear back through the middle,” Blackmon said.
The Braves got a pair of unearned runs in the first inning after Freddie Freeman’s one-out grounder went through first baseman Cron’s glove. Austin Riley followed with an RBI groundout and Adam Duvall added an RBI double.
Albies homered to start the top of the third and Soler evened the score at 4-all in the fifth with an RBI single.
Rockies: LHP Austin Gomber will miss the rest of the season after team doctors discovered a stress fracture in his lower back. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list. … INF/OF Connor Joe was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain suffered while running the bases in Friday’s game against Atlanta. … RHP Jordan Sheffield also has been reinstated from the 60-day IL and INF Joshua Fuentes has been recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (12-5, 3.52 ERA) is set to make his 11th career start against Colorado. He’s 2-2 lifetime with a 3.77 ERA against the Rockies.
Rockies: RHP Ryan Feltner (0-0, 0.00 ERA) was called up from Double-A Hartford to make the start in place of Austin Gomber, who was scratched because of a back injury and placed on the 60-day injured list. Feltner, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State, will be making his major league debut.