DENVER (AP) — For the second time in two nights, pitching was the problem for the Colorado Rockies.
And manager Jim Tracy didn’t mince words after his struggling staff allowed the Atlanta Braves to erase another big deficit Saturday.
“That was the worst game of the year for us,” Tracy said. “Similar to last night, from the sixth inning on we didn’t pitch at all.”
Chipper Jones had three hits and matched a career high with five RBIs, and the Braves overcame a grand slam by Michael Cuddyer to beat Colorado 13-9.
Matt Diaz and Jason Heyward hit back-to-back homers in the sixth to help Atlanta overtake the Rockies after trailing 6-0 and 8-3. One night earlier, Tracy watched his starting pitcher let a five-run lead slip away.
“To sit here and you’ve scored 17 runs in the first two games of the series and you haven’t won, gives you a pretty good idea of where we are failing,” Tracy said. “Our pitching has to be better than what we’re seeing right now. It’s just unacceptable.”
The Rockies jumped on Atlanta starter Mike Minor in the first, when Cuddyer connected for his sixth career slam and first since leaving Minnesota in the offseason to join the Rockies as a free agent.
Carlos Gonzalez, who went 4 for 4 with a walk, hit a two-run double in the second. In the fifth, Wilin Rosario drilled the first of his two homers, a two-run shot.
Trailing 8-3, the Braves broke through in the sixth to tie it at 8.
“The buck stops here,” Colorado starter Jamie Moyer said. “I was a part of it.”
Diaz and Heyward began the inning with consecutive home runs off Moyer and when Tyler Pastornicky followed with a single, Esmil Rogers came on in relief. But pinch-hitter Juan Francisco walked and Michael Bourn singled to load the bases for Jones, who blooped a two-run single into center.
Freddie Freeman’s groundout drove in the fifth run of the inning, foiling Moyer’s bid for his first victory since his milestone win against San Diego on April 17 when he became, at 49, the oldest starting pitcher to win a major league game.
Minor went five innings. He gave up 10 hits and a career-high eight runs, one more than he allowed in his previous outing.
Atlanta scored 10 runs from the sixth inning on and benefited from sloppy defense by the Rockies, who committed four errors in a game that included a 69-minute rain delay in the eighth.
The last miscue was a dropped fly ball in the ninth by center fielder Tyler Colvin, leading to the Braves’ final run.
Heavy thundershowers forced the teams off the field in the bottom of the eighth but the weather eventually cleared, allowing the game to resume.
In the midst of Atlanta’s tiebreaking four-run seventh, the game was also delayed for about six minutes while paramedics tended to a young fan who was struck by a foul ball and taken away on a stretcher for treatment.
The Braves loaded the bases against Rogers (0-2) in the seventh before Rex Brothers came on to walk Bourn, forcing home the go-ahead run. Jones followed with a two-run single and Freeman drove in the inning’s final run with a sacrifice fly as the Braves moved in front 12-8.
“The beauty is, once you’ve done something once, you can draw on it,” Diaz said. “We know we can bounce back if we have to and the offense is clicking right now.”
Rosario connected off Chad Durbin for his second homer of the game in the seventh to get the Rockies back within three.
Cristhian Martinez (2-0) worked an inning of scoreless relief for the victory. Livan Hernandez got five outs for the first save of his 15-year career.
NOTES: The homers by Diaz and Heyward marked the first time this season the Braves have gone back-to-back. … The Rockies have hit three grand slams this season, all in the past eight games. Todd Helton and Ramon Hernandez each have one. … Jones has had five RBIs in a game 18 times. … Heyward’s foul ball into the right-field seats just to the right of the foul pole was verified by replay review in the seventh. He ended the plate appearance by drawing a walk from Rogers. … Rosario had his first career multihomer game. … Moyer got his first hit of the season and the 50th of his career in the second inning. … Atlanta goes for a series sweep when it sends RHP Brandon Beachy (2-1) to the mound against RHP Juan Nicasio (2-0) on Sunday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)