Published September 05, 2012
ATLANTA – Rockies manager Jim Tracy credited Mike Minor for pitching well for Atlanta, and he felt his team underperformed when it put runners on base.
"As we've been doing for the last five weeks, we played as hard as you can ask a club to play," Tracy said. "But we just couldn't get a timely hit."
Colorado went hitless against Minor for six innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his first career four-out save in the Rockies' 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Minor (8-10) lost a no-hit bid in the seventh when Jordan Pacheco led off with a single. Pacheco stole second, but was stranded when Minor struck out Ramon Hernandez swinging, Chris Nelson on a foul tip and Andrew Brown looking.
Minor allowed one hit, walked four and struck out seven. The left-hander threw 63 of 108 pitches for strikes. He was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts for the game, thought Minor did a good job of mixing speeds and hitting his spots.
"He looked pretty good," LeMahieu said, "and we just weren't swinging the bat very well."
The Braves took the lead in the fourth when Chipper Jones hit a leadoff single against Alex White (2-8), moved to second on Freddie Freeman's walk and scored when shortstop Josh Rutledge made an errant throw to first after recording one out on Brian McCann's fielder's choice grounder.
The NL wild card-leading Braves had lost 11 of 17.
Jose Constanza drew a leadoff walk in the seventh for Atlanta against Matt Ottavino, stole second and moved to third on Tyler Pastornicky's sacrifice. Matt Reynolds and William Harris got the last two outs with strikeouts of Michael Bourn and Martin Prado.
White, who was facing the Braves for the first time in his career, allowed two hits and walked four in four innings.
"My four-seam (fastball) is actually the one I had trouble commanding," White said. "But I had good stuff, got some guys out and kept us in the game."
Atlanta continued to struggle offensively despite second baseman Dan Uggla and McCann returning to the lineup. Uggla was benched the last three games with a .208 batting average, and McCann missed the last three games after taking a cortisone shot in his right shoulder.
Uggla and McCann combined to go 0 for 7. The Nos. 2-4 hitters — Prado, Jason Heyward and Jones — each left three runners on base, but the Braves did manage to improve to 6-40 this year when scoring two or fewer runs.
Atlanta had lost 11 of 17 when scoring two runs or less.
Harris pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for Colorado, helping the Rockies' bullpen run their streak to 15 consecutive scoreless innings in the four-game series.
Facing Eric O'Flaherty in the eighth, Dexter Fowler walked with one out and advanced to third on Rutledge's single. After O'Flaherty struck out Carlos Gonzalez and Rutledge stole second off Kimbrel, the closer struck out Pacheco to end the threat.
Tracy thought the strikeout of Gonzalez was a turning point.
"I thought we sent the best hitter we have in that clubhouse, and he ended up striking him out," Tracy said. "We got some people on base, but when you get them on and your opportunity is there, with the way the game is unfolding and the way the other side is pitching, you have to seize the opportunity."
Kimbrel earned his 33rd save in 36 chances. He walked pinch-hitter Jason Giambi with two down in the ninth, then fanned Wilin Rosario for his fourth strikeout of the game.
Minor, who singled in the second, improved to 2-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his last seven starts. In his first career start against Colorado on May 5 in Denver, Minor allowed 10 hits and eight runs but received no-decision in the Braves' 13-9 win.
"It was one of those nights that I had a lot of pitches," Minor said. "I didn't feel like I was throwing that great. I actually didn't know until I looked back in the fifth (at the scoreboard) and saw no hits."
NOTES: Pacheco pushed his hitting streak to 14 games, during which he's hitting .365 with two homers and eight RBIs. .... Constanza, who won the International League batting title with a .314 average, went 0 for 1 with two walks. ... Foley's New York Pub & Restaurant will honor Jones by renaming itself Chipper's from Sept. 7-9 — when the Braves visit New York for the last time this season — and serve 10 types of chips.