Rockies routed after Chatwood's brief outing

Rockies routed after Chatwood's brief outing

Rockies routed after Chatwood's brief outing

ATLANTA -- The happiest pitcher in a Rockies uniform this week has to be right-hander Jhoulys Chacin. His turn does not come up during a four-game series with the Braves that will come to a merciful end on Thursday.

Right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who had given up more than two runs just twice in 15 previous starts, was pounded for eight runs, seven earned, and 10 hits in just 2 1/3 innings of a 9-0 loss at Turner Field on Wednesday night in front of 22,097 fans.

Chatwood was 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his previous four starts. But that sure didn't matter to the National League East-leading Braves, who have won six straight. The loss, in which the Braves scored seven runs in a third inning paced by Brian McCann's three-run homer, drove Chatwood's ERA from 2.45 to 3.15.

"You can't fall behind hot teams like that," Chatwood said. "You've got to get ahead and try to be able to pick the corners."

The story is familiar.

Jorge De La Rosa gave up eight runs, five earned, in four innings of the series-opening, 9-8, 10-inning loss on Monday and saw his ERA go from 2.97 to 3.21. Juan Nicasio had given up one run in 19 innings over three starts before Tuesday night, when the Braves touched him for eight runs and 10 hits in four innings of an 11-3 loss. Nicasio's ERA rose from 4.40 to 4.92.

"It was similar to the last couple of nights," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's getting balls out in the middle of the plate, and these guys aren't missing anything."

After all those numbers, the Rockies hope beginner's enthusiasm will help them avoid being swept. Right-hander Chad Bettis has been called up from Double-A Tulsa to make his Major League debut Thursday night while starting the series finale.

The pain for Rockies pitchers was figurative, but it was literal for left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who left the game before a fourth-inning at-bat. Gonzalez aggravated a right middle finger sprain while batting against Braves starter Mike Minor in the first. Gonzalez stayed in the game defensively and saved Chatwood a run in the second on a throw to the plate to retire Dan Uggla (although replays showed that catcher Yorvit Torrealba's sweep tag appeared to miss), but did not bat again. Gonzalez's injury first occurred in July, and it flared up last Thursday during a game.

Minor, 3-0 in three career starts against Colorado, went seven innings, struck out six and held the Rockies to two hits. He threw strikes on a startling 70 of his 95 pitches. The Rockies suffered their ninth shutout of the season.

At any rate, the Rockies fell to a season-worst seven games below .500 and were in danger of falling to 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West.

Colorado was 4 1/2 out of first at the All-Star break, then squandered a chance to make a push by going 5-5 in its first second-half homestand. Since 2011, the Rockies are 3-15 against the Braves and 1-10 at Turner Field.

After grabbing a 5-0 lead in the first game of the series, the Rockies have been outscored 29-6.

"We knew what we were in for," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "They were coming off sweeping the Cardinals and playing good baseball, as good as anybody."

McCann's homer, his 15th of the season, occurred during a third inning in which six of the seven batters Chatwood faced reached, on five hits and a walk, before reliever Adam Ottavino replaced the Rox starter.

Freddie Freeman continued his dominance of the Rockies by going 4-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs. In 21 career meetings, Freeman is hitting .358 (29-of-81). His only other career four-hit game come on May 4, 2012 -- against the Rockies, of course.

"There's no explaining it," Freeman said. "I don't know what it is. I guess I was struggling against St. Louis, and we got it clicking a couple of days ago in the video room and the cage. Unfortunately, the Rockies were the ones when I started clicking again. It seems like I always click against them."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.