DENVER — The Colorado Rockies hit two rapid-fire two-run homers Friday night but had to survive a tense ninth inning to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3.
Nolan Arenado, rested after not playing Thursday, hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and two batters later, Trevor Story hit a two-run shot.
The Rockies withstood a late Braves charge before beating them for the eighth straight time at Coors Field dating back to June 2014 and the 10th time in 11 games overall. Jace Peterson hit a two-run homer in the eighth to make it a one-run game, but struck out to end it with the bases loaded in the ninth against rookie closer Carlos Estevez, who pitched his way into and out of trouble.
“That’s a great growth opportunity right there for Estevez,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “That’s a really, really tough save. He got himself in some trouble there with the command getting away from him. But his stuff is so good he can punch guys out and get out of an inning unscathed.”
Mark Reynolds led off the fifth with a grounder to the right of the mound. Braves ace Julio Teheran moved toward the ball and lunged to his left for it. After throwing one warmup pitch, Teheran departed with right lat tightness and was listed day-to-day.
Teheran held the Rockies scoreless for four innings, after blanking them for seven innings Sunday.
“He said he felt something at the end of the fourth and went back out and tried to throw,” interim Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Hopefully he was smart and didn’t try to do something to make it worse. It wasn’t on the Reynolds play. It was on a ball that he had thrown. We’ll see him tomorrow, and see where he is at.”
Jon Gray (6-4), who matched Teheran with seven scoreless innings Sunday, held the Braves to one run and six hits in seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts — all swinging as he overmatched the Braves with his slider. Weiss called the pitch “a game-changer.”
Gray improved to 4-0 with a 4.22 ERA in eight starts this season at Coors Field. In four starts this month, Gray is 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA (26 1/3 innings, 6 earned runs).
“Confidence is just building, and I’m looking to even build it more,” Gray said. “To be able to go out there and keep doing something that you know you can — it feels pretty good.”
Arenado followed a leadoff walk to DJ LeMahieu in the sixth with a drive to left-center for his 24th homer on a 2-2 sinker from Joel De La Cruz (0-3). Dario Alvarez came on and gave up a single to Carlos Gonzalez, followed by Story’s 24th homer that tied him with Troy Tulowitzki for the mosthome runs by a National League rookie shortstop.
With Adam Ottavino unavailable — he pitched two days in a row for the first time since his return from Tommy John surgery — and Chad Qualls ill with a virus, Jason Motte relieved Gray. Motte gave up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Chase d’Arnaud followed by Peterson’s two-run shot into the second deck in right field. It was his fifth homer of the season and ended the night for Motte, who has six homers in 19 2/3 innings this season.
Adonis Garcia led off the ninth with a double against Estevez, who then walked Ender Inciarte. After Anthony Recker sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Erick Aybar walked to load the bases. d’Arnaud popped to shortstop.
Estevez said his left shoulder occasionally pops out of place and has done so since he was 6 or 7. It happened while pitching to d’Arnaud. Trainer Keith Dugger and manager Walt Weiss then went to the mound, watched Estevez throw two warm-up pitches and kept him in the game. Estevez struck out Peterson, who was unable to check his swing on Estevez’s 30th pitch and 15th strike.
“I got in a big mess but still got out of it,” said Estevez, who earned his eighth save. “Worked my way through it.”
Some good fortune enabled the Braves to score a run in the first. Freddie Freeman lined a first-pitch changeup that left fielder Ryan Raburn caught but was unable to hold the ball as he banged into the wall, and Freeman ended up with a triple. Freeman scored when Nick Markakis hit a slow roller that third baseman Arenado unsuccessfully tried to barehand.
“I was proud after having a rough first inning to be able to go seven and give our guys a chance to win,” Gray said.
NOTES: Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the first. … Colorado LHP Chris Rusin (left shoulder strain) is scheduled to throw five innings and/or 75 pitches Sunday night at Fresno in his third rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque and join the Rockies on Monday in Baltimore to be reevaluated. … Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez’s 20th homer Thursday gave him at least 20 homers in six seasons with the Rockies, making him the sixth player in franchise history to have six or more seasons with 20 home runs. … Braves RHP Shea Simmons, who underwent Tommy John surgery Feb. 12, 2015, will make his first rehab appearance Saturday for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Braves and throw one inning and/or 20 pitches. … Rockies C Tony Wolters is playing with nine stitches in his chin. He was bunting Monday off a pitching machine and took a ball directly off his chin.