Braves 11th Inning Homer Sends Rockies Home With A Loss
DENVER (AP) — Chipper Jones will miss a lot of things about baseball when he retires after this season.
Crazy games at Coors Field won’t be one of them.
“This place,” Jones said, shaking his head. “Man.”
It was another wacky affair at a ballpark known for being just that — wacky.
Eric Hinske had four hits, including a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 11th inning, and the Atlanta Braves outlasted the Colorado Rockies 9-8 on Friday night.
Afterward, Jones plopped into his seat, completely drained. He couldn’t imagine playing these types of four-hour games here on a regular basis, and told Todd Helton just that during a conversation at first base.
“This place is a roller-coaster ride from start to finish,” Jones said. “The ups and downs that go with playing here, I’m worn out after three games here. (Helton) plays 81. It’s crazy.”
Jones was the guest of honor as the Rockies rolled out the red carpet for him with a brief ceremony prior to first pitch. The longtime Braves third baseman announced in spring training he will retire after the season.
But his teammate stole his thunder.
“Fine by me,” said Jones, who had a solo homer in the sixth. “As long as we get it done.”
Hinske, inserted into the lineup because Martin Prado was sick, made the most of his start.
After pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky singled to begin the 11th, Hinske sent a 94-mph fastball from Edgmer Escalona (0-1) into the Rockies’ bullpen for his first homer of the season.
“Put a good swing on it,” said Hinske, whose four hits tied a career high. “The nice Colorado air — put some backspin on the ball and it keeps going.”
Chad Durbin (2-0) worked his way out of a jam in the 10th to earn the win and Craig Kimbrel survived a shaky 11th for his ninth save in 10 chances. Kimbrel gave up an RBI groundout to Helton before getting Michael Cuddyer to roll out to end the game.
The Braves’ bullpen was solid all night after starter Tim Hudson departed. All combined, they allowed just two hits and one run in five innings of work.
Kris Medlen pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings before giving way to Eric O’Flaherty with two outs in the eighth. The lefty then got a big strikeout of pinch hitter Jason Giambi, who was the hero on Wednesday when he hit a walk-off homer in an 8-5 win over Los Angeles.
O’Flaherty also struck out Helton in the ninth to end a threat with the winning run standing on third.
The heart of the Braves’ order had quite a game as Jones, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann combined for eight hits, two homers and six RBIs.
Hudson was making his second start of the season after rehabbing for most of April as he recovered from an offseason surgery to fix a herniated disk in his back.
The righty struggled early, giving up five runs in the first inning, but then settled into a groove. Hudson retired 11 straight at one point before giving up a solo homer to Jonathan Herrera in the fifth that tied it at 6.
“This is never an easy place to come in and have a good feel for things right off the bat,” Hudson said. “Took me a little bit to start pitching and locate a little better.”
Hudson lasted six innings and gave up seven runs — six earned. He was a step away from possibly earning the win, but couldn’t wiggle out of a sixth-inning jam. With the bases loaded and one out, Hudson got pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin to roll a grounder at Dan Uggla, who started the double-play attempt.
But Colvin just beat out Jack Wilson’s relay throw to first, allowing Helton to score the tying run.
In this back-and-forth game, no lead was safe.
A botched bunt by Bourn led to a big fifth inning for the Braves — and a little controversy.
With one out and no one on, Bourn put down a bunt he thought was foul, only to have home plate umpire Tim McClelland rule it fair. Ramon Hernandez easily tagged out Bourn.
But Bourn and manager Fredi Gonzalez vehemently argued the call, leading McClelland to appeal to third base umpire Marvin Hudson, who overturned the ruling. An irate Jim Tracy then argued his point, only to no avail.
Replays seemed to indicate that maybe Hernandez did indeed touch the ball in foul territory before making the play.
Given another chance, Bourn laced a single to ignite a four-run rally as the Braves took a 6-5 lead.
Staked to a 5-0 lead, starter Guillermo Moscoso couldn’t hold it as he surrendered six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
“Had the lead and couldn’t hold it,” Moscoso said.
Manager Jim Tracy was a little more critical.
“I’d give us A-plus grades for everything we did. Our defense, our bullpen the way they held up, and the way we kept coming back,” Tracy said. “I liked everything but our starting pitcher. We fell short in that area. That was not a good starting performance.”
NOTES: Gonzalez instituted a ban on Frisbee tossing in the outfield before games. “I put it in force three days ago,” Gonzalez said when asked if there was any connection to Mariano Rivera’s knee injury while shagging fly balls. “It isn’t bad, but I don’t want to have to ask any questions if something happened.” … Helton’s double in the sixth was No. 561 of his career, moving him into sole possession of 21st place.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)