By The Sports Xchange
DENVER — Chad Bettis restored order on the mound for the Rockies, and Carlos Gonzalez belted a timely three-run homer Thursday night as Colorado beat the Atlanta Braves 7-3.
The Rockies’ victory came after consecutive lopsided losses to the Tampa Bay Rays by scores of 10-1 and 11-3, defeats in which the Colorado starters pitched a combined seven innings.
Bettis (8-6) and Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, who faced each other Saturday at Atlanta, both worked five scoreless innings before the Rockies broke through in the sixth on Gonzalez’s big swing and drove Foltynewicz from the game.
Gonzalez’s blast on a 97 mph fastball with the count 1-1 traveled 459 feet and banged off the back wall of the Rockies’ bullpen in right center.
“That’s as loud as it gets,” Gonzalez said.
Charlie Blackmon led off the inning with a walk, and DJ LeMahieu singled ahead of Gonzalez, who launched Foltynewicz’s 1-1 fastball for his 20th home run. It was the fourth three-run shot for Gonzalez, who also has one grand slam this season.
“I saw a lot of pitches in the first two at-bats, but I was ready for one mistake,” Gonzalez said. “I knew he was going to throw pitches on the corners and bounce his curveball. I knew that I was going to get one pitch the whole night and that was it. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I didn’t waste that great outing that (Bettis) was throwing.”
Bettis and catcher Nick Hundley decided they had to vary their approach from five days earlier against the Braves. Consequently, Bettis threw more curveballs and, in particular, focused on burying the pitch as he did to strike out Ender Inciarte to end the fourth with runners on first and third.
“I really liked the way he used his curveball, used it a lot, a lot of strikes,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “That creates separation for the hitter and that’s tough to deal with. He looked like he had his A game going.
Foltynewicz struck out the next two batters he faced. However, after walking Ryan Raburn, Foltynewicz slipped while fielding Nick Hundley’s soft grounder and was unable to throw him out. The hit came on Foltynewicz’s season-high 112th and final pitch.
In 5 2/3 innings, Foltynewicz (3-4), who threw a season-high 112 pitches, allowed four hits and three runs with a career-high five walks and five strikeouts.
Bettis, who got 11 outs on ground balls, gave up one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings during his 87-pitch outing.
The Braves broke through against him in the seventh. With one out, Inciarte flared a single into short left field and scored when A.J. Pierzynski drove a double into the left field gap. Pierzynski moved to third on Erick Aybar’s grounder, spelling the end of Bettis’ outing.
Bettis said he jokingly told Weiss, “‘You’re coming out here to tell me the scouting report on this guy.’ I wish I would have had the opportunity to go right there. It was definitely a big growth opportunity, but hey, we won. And at that point in time, it was a pivotal point in the game.”
Adam Ottavino relieved Bettis and snuffed out the rally by striking out pinch hitter Brandon Snyder on a nine-pitch at-bat.
Pinch hitter Mark Reynolds put the Rockies ahead 4-1 when he led off the seventh with a 484-foot blast to left-center off left-hander Hunter Cervenka. The pinch-hit homer was the fourth of Reynolds’ career and his first since July 8, 2014, at Philadelphia while playing for Milwaukee.
The Rockies blew the game open with three runs in the eighth. With runners on second and third, Hundley singled home a run. A second scored because obstruction was called on shortstop Aybar as Daniel Descalso ran toward third. Left fielder Jace Peterson’s throw home nailed Descalso, but the runner was ruled safe because of the obstruction call. Pierzynski, the catcher, was ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters.
“I kicked the ball to their dugout, because we needed a new ball,” Pierzynski said. “I’ve done that 100 times over my career. I wasn’t looking at him. I didn’t say anything to him. I just dropped the ball when I was standing there talking to (pitcher Mauricio) Cabrera and was just kicking it to get a new ball, so I apologized Maybe I should have bent over, and picked it up and rolled it over there.”
In the ninth, Anthony Recker doubled home a run on the third straight one-out hit allowed by Jason Motte. After another run scored on a groundout, Motte walked pinch hitter Jeff Francoeur. However, closer Carlos Estevez earned his seventh save in 10 chances by retiring Peterson on a slow broken-bat roller to second base.
NOTES: Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. …Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado did not play. Manager Walt Weiss said he was looking for a day after the All-Star break to rest Arenado, who was hitting .242 (15-for-62) in 16 games this month with two homers and six RBIs. … Braves RF Nick Markakis went 32 plate appearances without swinging and missing a pitch until he struck out swinging in the ninth. … Rockies RHP Chad Qualls was available after being away from the club for a few days due to illness. He last pitched on July 15. … Rockies OF Gerardo Parra (high left ankle sprain) ran well and is not far from going out on a rehab assignment. He last played for Colorado on June 14. … Rockies RHP Justin Miller (left oblique strain) threw 35 pitches in his second bullpen session. He will face hitters in batting practice Saturday.