ATLANTA (AP) — Juan Nicasio took the pressure off a Rockies’ lineup missing some big names.
Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki each homered, Nicasio solved the Braves and Colorado beat Atlanta 3-1 on Saturday.
The Rockies were missing some of their big bats as Carlos Gonzalez missed his third straight start with a swollen finger and Nolan Arenado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger. Arenado’s injury came in a 3-2 loss on Friday night, and manager Walt Weiss said he wasn’t surprised his team had a strong recovery.
“It was a tough night last night, a tough loss and obviously Nolan’s situation,” Weiss said. “Just like we’ve been all year, this team is resilient and they turn the page and show up the next day and compete. They don’t lose confidence. It was a good gut-check for us today.”
Nicasio (5-2) didn’t need much offense. The right-hander turned around his ugly history against the Braves — 0-3 and 9.82 ERA in four starts. He gave up only two hits in six shutout innings. Leaning on his fastball, Nicasio pitched around four walks and had five strikeouts.
“To bounce back after that loss last night was big, and we rode Nicasio’s shoulders today,” Cuddyer said.
Nicasio pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.
Instead of being motivated by his poor history against the Braves or the need to take pressure off a weakened lineup, Nicasio said it was an important game only because the Rockies wanted to rebound from Friday night’s loss.
“I know I need to win today, tie the series 1-1 and tomorrow we try to win the series,” Nicasio said.
Atlanta’s Mike Minor (2-3) allowed three runs on four hits — including the two homers — in 6 2-3 innings.
“I’m not happy with the loss but to not have your best stuff and to get a quality start out of it, I’ll take it,” Minor said.
Trailing 3-0, the Braves tried to rally in the eighth. B.J. Upton singled off Boone Logan and moved to third on Freddie Freeman’s double. Justin Upton’s fly to right field off Adam Ottavino drove in B.J. Upton as Freeman advanced to third. Ottavino struck out Evan Gattis to end the inning.
LaTroy Hawkins, who had given up at least one run in each of his last three appearances, earned his 11th save with a perfect ninth inning.
The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the third on Nicasio’s walks to Jason Heyward and Freeman and a single by B.J. Upton. Justin Upton ended the inning with a foul popup.
“We had the bases loaded there with the right guy at the plate early on in the game but (Nicasio) wiggled out of that one,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
“There weren’t a lot of opportunities but we had some and when you don’t cash in on opportunities you have games like this.”
Atlanta didn’t manage another hit off Nicasio until Justin Upton’s double with one out in the sixth. Nicasio retired the next two batters.
Weiss successfully challenged home plate umpire Lance Barksdale’s call that Charlie Culberson was tagged out at the plate in the seventh. Culberson, who hit a leadoff double and moved to third on D.J. LeMahieu’s groundout, tried to score on pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon’s grounder to first base. Culberson slid head-first with his left hand reaching for the plate as Gattis applied the tag.
The call was overturned following the lengthy review — 4 minutes, 14 seconds.
Culberson, who started for Arenado at third base, had two hits.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who was pulled from Friday night’s game by Fredi Gonzalez for losing his temper after a strikeout, was 0 for 4 in his return to the lineup. Gonzalez confirmed he and catcher Gerald Laird were caught in the crossfire when Johnson broke his bat.
Johnson has a history of similar outbursts and vowed he wouldn’t have another incident.
NOTES: The Rockies recalled INF Josh Rutledge from Triple-A Colorado Springs. … The homer by Tulowitzki was the first in 71 career plate appearances at Turner Field. … Gattis returned to Atlanta’s lineup after missing four games with viral symptoms. … The series ends Sunday when Braves RHP Julio Teheran faces Rockies LHP Franklin Morales.
BY CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
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