"I really haven't had time to digest it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said when asked his thoughts about the ball falling between Simmons and Maybin. "In my mind, I was thinking more about what was going on with Grilli."
Gonzalez handed the Rockies an early 2-0 lead with a long first-inning homer off rookie Matt Wisler, which was projected by Statcast™ to land 441 feet away. But the Braves answered right back with two long balls of their own off left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Juan Uribe took the first crack with a solo homer in the second, and Ryan Lavarnway followed suit with opposite-field long ball -- his first homer since Sept. 4, 2013.
But Gonzalez's late-game heroics gave the Rockies their first three-game winning streak since June 20-23, as well as a chance at their first sweep since taking all three games at Philadelphia in late May.
"I'm proud of our guys -- it's been a tough run," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We talked about not trying to sprint to the All-Star break. The All-Star break will get here when it gets here, but there can be a tendency to look forward to that four-day break. It's only natural, but I just reminded them that we need to keep our foot on the gas. And that's what we did today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Unfazed Rookie: Gonzalez's first-inning homer did not rattle Wisler, who displayed good composure as he surrendered just the two earned runs over six innings in his Coors Field experience. The highly-regarded prospect pitched around three doubles and used his slider to record four of his career-high seven strikeouts. He notched consecutive three-pitch strikeouts against Tulowitzki and Gonzalez to end the third inning.
"I think that was probably the best I've felt this year in terms of keeping the ball down in the zone and mixing speeds," Wisler said. "My slider was good tonight. The homer was just bad location. I was trying to get it above his hands and I just left it right where he could get to it."
Quality Jorge: Aside from the two homers, De La Rosa was solid again. Six of his seven strikeouts came against the Braves' top four hitters in the lineup, and Atlanta managed just three runners into scoring position against the left-hander. In total, De La Rosa gave up two runs over six innings and now has a 2.97 ERA over his last 10 outings -- seven of which have been "quality" starts (at least six innings pitched with three earned runs or less given up).
"My command was good the whole game," De La Rosa said. "I think I made just one mistake to Uribe. The other [homer] was a good pitch down and away. My changeup and my cutter were good today."
Rafael helps out Rex: After Rex Brothers struggled in his 2015 MLB debut -- he threw 15 pitches (four strikes), walked two and uncorked a wild pitch -- Rafael Betancourt was asked to clean up the seventh-inning mess in a 2-2 game. The 40-year-old veteran did just that with the go-ahead run on second, retiring Maybin on a flyout to left and Pedro Ciriaco on a popout to second. Brothers, meanwhile, was an integral part of the Rockies bullpen in 2013 has struggled mightily with control issues since then.
"To be honest, I was hoping for an easier outing for him as far as first appearance back," Weiss said of Brothers, who arrived in Denver close to an hour before first pitch. "But Rex, he was ready though. I talked about it before the game. I said, 'You might be in the heat right out of the gate.'"
Squandered opportunities: Atlanta stranded nine runners over the final six innings and in the process squandered two bases-loaded threats. Nick Markakis and Chris Johnson opened the eighth inning with consecutive hits but Johnson's inability to stretch a single off the right field wall into a double prevented the Braves from putting runners at second and third with none out. Still they loaded the bases before Simmons flew out to shallow center field and Lavarnway struck out. More >
"The only thing I can do to get better is rest, and I have to pitch every five days. It's going to be better in the offseason." -- De La Rosa, on the cut that is on his left middle finger, which has been bothering him for nearly two months
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Saturday was the Braves' fourth multi-homer game in their last 11 contests. They had just nine in their first 77 games this season.
The Braves have scored three runs or less in six of the past seven games they have played at Coors Field dating back to last season. They did so in just 14 of the 74 games played here from 1995-2013.
A pair of replay reviews added to the excitement during the top of the eighth inning. The Braves were unsuccessful with their challenge that Johnson beat Tulowitzki's tag while attempting to stretch a single into a double.
Two batters later, the Rockies were unsuccessful with their challenge that Markakis did not get back to third base before being tagged by Nolan Arenado.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Alex Wood will once again take the mound when Atlanta and Colorado conclude a four-game series on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET. Wood threw just two pitches before exiting Thursday's series opener because of a two-hour, six-minute rain delay.
Rockies:Chad Bettis gets the ball in the first-half finale, looking for much better results than his last outing. On Tuesday, he lasted just 2 1/3 innings against the Angels, surrendering eight hits and a career-high 10 runs. First pitch is at 2:10 MT (KOA/Root Sports Rocky Mountain).