Bettis, Rox leave Turner Field empty-handed

Bettis, Rox leave Turner Field empty-handed

ATLANTA -- Pitchers with far more experience than the Rockies' Chad Bettis have learned that less-than-pinpoint location is a sure way to defeat against the hot Braves.

Up from Double-A Tulsa in his Major League debut, Bettis was burned immediately and frequently in an 11-2 loss at Turner Field on Thursday night as the Braves completed a four-game sweep.

A jittery Bettis, 24, walked first-inning leadoff man Jason Heyward on six pitches, then watched Justin Upton swat his 1-1 fastball into the right-field seats for a home run -- the first of his two.

Bettis showed velocity on a fastball that reached 96 mph consistently once he settled into the game, but command and control were issues. In five innings, Bettis gave up six hits, including a two-run Heyward homer in the third inning, but walked five against one strikeout.

"First time out, there were definitely some butterflies there," Bettis said. "I was trying to minimize those as much as I could. After three or four batters I started settling in there and felt better.

"I settled down definitely after the first inning. The second through the fifth, other than that mistake pitch to Heyward, I felt I did what I could today. With all the emotions and butterflies and trying to control that, it would have been nice to pull it out there."

Bettis' introduction to the Majors was marginally better than the performances of Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Tyler Chatwood, who came to Atlanta trending positively but didn't even make five innings in any of the starts.

Bettis' performance qualified as a bright spot on a deflating night that ended an awful Rockies series.

"I liked what I saw from Chad," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He got a curveball up that got hit out early. I thought there was a lot to like there, a lot of power and a lot of poise."

Upton saw Bettis' attributes after his homer.

"You go out and hopefully the adrenaline makes him make a mistake, and then the next two at-bats, once he settled in, he got me," Upton said.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who hasn't had much of a good time against the Braves, had a short but angry night. With runners at second and third and the Rockies trailing, 2-1, Tulowitzki took a called third strike, then was ejected by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson. The action finished Tulowitzki's season against the Braves 1-for-21 with six strikeouts.

The Rockies are no doubt happy as a whole to be done with the Braves. Since their inaugural season they've been swept in four-game series 16 times, including three times by the Braves, who are first in the National League East and went unbeaten in their seven-game homestand. The Braves outscored the Rockies, 40-13, at Turner Field.

Futility against the Braves is a long-held pattern. Since the start of 2011, the Rockies are 3-16 overall and 1-11 at Turner Field against the Braves.

Starting Friday night, the Rockies will face another hot team -- the NL Central-leading Pirates.

"This was a rough series, no way around it," said Weiss, a player on tough Braves teams 1998-2000 at the end of his career as a shortstop. "Dust ourselves off, go to Pittsburgh and try to play well there.

"Other than the first one, the other three were ugly. We need to make sure we still compete. I don't question these guys in that respect. I don't think that's going to be a problem. We need to do that regardless of how we're playing or where we're at."

A strong first month had folks looking at the Rockies as possible contenders -- a major step forward after a 98-loss 2012 season. But pitching problems early and inconsistent offense lately have reversed the fortunes. Now they're a season-worst eight games below .500.

"When you play a really good team like that, you definitely see every weakness in your own club," veteran first baseman Todd Helton said. "They were glaring over the last four games.

"I feel like other times we've come in and had chances, a fighting chance. It felt a little different this time."

Braves starter Julio Teheran was less than efficient but sufficiently effective. Yes, it took him 103 pitches to navigate five innings, but he gave up one run on five hits and fanned a career-high-tying 11.

Before the ejection, the Rockies appeared close to breaking out against Teheran. They loaded the bases with one out -- a strikeout of Tulowitzki -- in the first, but Todd and Nolan Arenado struck out.

Charlie Blackmon doubled to open the second, but he had a poor read and advanced just one base on DJ LeMahieu's double -- one of his three hits -- to right. Dexter Fowler drew a one-out walk. Corey Dickerson launched a sacrifice fly to deep right that moved the runners before Tulowitzki took his strikeout on a 2-2 pitch, then exited the game.

Upton homered in the bottom of the eighth off right-hander Edgmer Escalona, who coughed up home runs in two of the three games and yielded Andrelton Simmons' 10th-inning, game-winning triple in the first game of the set.

Escalona made the team because of his power arm, and he posted a 1.54 ERA in his first 13 appearances. But after giving up five runs on four hits and a walk in one-third of an innings, Escalona has an 11.09 ERA in 20 appearances since May 17.

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.