Rockies get few chances to score vs. Braves

Rockies get few chances to score vs. Braves

Rockies get few chances to score vs. Braves
ATLANTA -- After seven innings of being dominated by Braves left-hander Mike Minor, the Rockies created their best scoring opportunity of the night in the eighth.

With his team down by one run, and with runners on the corners and one out, Carlos Gonzalez stepped to the plate against reliever Eric O'Flaherty. A base hit would tie the score and allow the Rockies to forget they had been no-hit for six innings and were in danger of being shut out for the eighth time this season.

It wasn't to be. O'Flaherty struck out Gonzalez on a sinker in the dirt, and closer Craig Kimbrel ended the threat by striking out Jordan Pacheco for the third out of the inning. Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth, and the Braves hung on for a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night at Turner Field.

"I thought we had -- even with Eric O'Flaherty in there -- sent the best hitter that we have in that clubhouse up to the plate, and he ended up striking him out," manager Jim Tracy said. "If you have a situation where you have a chance to tie the game, with runners on first and third, that's certainly where you'd like to be in your lineup, and that's where we were. We just couldn't push the run across."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez considers O'Flaherty's strikeout to be one of the most important plays of the night.

"For me that's the game," Gonzalez said. "If he doesn't get Gonzo there, all of a sudden, it's one out, and now you can't bring in Kimbrel for five outs. That's a tough situation. That was a big out there."

For the Rockies to have even been in position to tie the score didn't seem possible just a few innings before. Minor reduced the Rockies' offense to little more than off-balance swings and weak contact that produced no hits for six innings.

The no-hit bid ended when Pacheco hit a line drive into left field to lead off the seventh. The hit extended Pacheco's hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active streak in the National League.

Minor finished the night allowing just one hit and four walks in seven innings. He struck out seven.

Ramon Hernandez said that Minor did a good job keeping hitters off balance.

"He mixed all his pitches well," Hernandez said. "He was keeping the ball in and out, very consistent."

The Rockies' best chance to score against Minor came in the first inning. After getting two quick outs, Minor walked Gonzalez and Pacheco before Hernandez grounded out to end the inning. The Rockies didn't get multiple baserunners in the same inning again until the seventh.

While Minor was dominating, the Rockies also got a strong pitching performance. Right-hander Alex White allowed just one unearned run in four innings and Adam Ottavino, his piggyback partner, threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

White's night was shortened by four walks that elevated his pitch count, but he kept his sinker down in the strike zone and produced seven ground-ball outs.

"I had good stuff," White said. "I made some good pitches, got some guys out and kept us in the game."

The Braves scored the game's lone run in the fourth inning. Chipper Jones led off with a single and moved to second on a walk to Freddie Freeman. White then induced a ground ball from Brian McCann to DJ LeMahieu at second base, and it looked as though the Rockies would be able to turn a double play. LeMahieu threw to second for the forceout, but Freeman slid hard into second base, and the throw from shortstop Josh Rutledge went into the Braves' dugout, allowing Jones to score.

"It's unfortunate that they got the run in the manner in which they got it," Tracy said. "I felt certain that we had a double play there."

Tracy was happy with White, as well as with the performance of the bullpen. Ottavino, Matt Reynolds and Will Harris combined to allow just two hits in four scoreless innings. In the first three games of the series, the Rockies' relief corps has thrown 15 scoreless innings.

Although the pitchers were providing a chance to win, the offense wasn't quite able to find the critical hit it needed. And, in a pitchers' duel, Hernandez said, sometimes that's what happens.

"Both guys pitched really good," he said. "They didn't miss many spots, they mixed pitches good.

"That's the way it goes sometimes."

Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.