Rockies, Braves clash in rubber match

( - The Colorado Rockies have set themselves up for a series win and will try to cash in Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game set against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

After dropping a 3-2 decision in Friday's opener, the Rockies bounced back with a 3-1 verdict in the middle portion of this series. Troy Tulowitzki continued his MVP campaign with a homer and Michael Cuddyer added a long ball of his own for the Rockies, who are on a 10-day, nine-game road trip.

Tulowitzki and Charlie Culberson both had two hits in the win, while Colorado starting pitcher Juan Nicasio tamed Atlanta's bats to the tune of six scoreless innings of two-hit ball with five K's and four walks. LaTroy Hawkins picked up his 11th save in the ninth.

Culberson got the start at third base and is taking over for Nolan Arenado, who was placed on the disabled list with a fractured finger.

The Rockies had lost seven straight in Atlanta.

"It was an extremely important game for us today," Cuddyer said. "Obviously, we haven't had too much success here over the years."

Cuddyer has homered in back-to-back games and Tulowitzki is batting .382 with 14 homers and 36 RBI this season. Colorado is first in the majors with a .295 batting average and has scored an MLB-best 262 runs even though it hasn't notched more than three in each of the previous four contests.

The Rockies lead the NL with 66 home runs and the majors with 251 RBI. They will visit Philadelphia Monday to start a three-game series. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez missed his third straight game with a swollen left index finger, and is considered day-to-day. He may rest Sunday to prepare for the Phillies.

The Rockies hope Franklin Morales can break his four-game winless streak (0-2) when he takes the mound Sunday. Morales did not record a decision in Tuesday's 5-4 win over San Francisco, as he allowed three runs in six innings.

Morales has been reached for three or more runs in each of his last five trips to the hill and is 3-3 with a 5.30 earned run average in 10 games (9 starts) this season. Colorado is 5-2 in his last seven appearances.

The left-handed Morales has faced Atlanta five times (1 start) in his career and is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA.

Atlanta had won two in a row and five of six games until Saturday's loss. Mike Minor was dealt the setback after he was touched for three runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings, and managed to strike out six with three walks.

Justin Upton drove in the lone run and his brother, B.J., ended with two hits and a run scored. Jason Heyward went 0-for-3 and saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end. Heyward batted .381 with three RBI, five runs and 16 hits during the run.

"It was tough. (Nicasio) didn't fall into any patterns," said Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson, who went 0-for-4. "He threw the ball in off the plate. He threw the ball away. It was tough to really get a feel for what he was trying to do today."

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel didn't get a chance to show his stuff and is two saves away from tying John Smoltz's franchise record of 154.

The NL East-leading Braves are 4-2 on a nine-game homestand and will play a quick two-game set with the Boston Red Sox starting Monday.

Julio Teheran is coming off his second shutout of the season and will lead the Braves on the mound Sunday. After he was touched for five runs (4 earned) in a season-low 3 1/3 innings of a 10-4 loss at San Francisco on May 14, Teheran rebounded in a big way Tuesday with a 5-0 win over Milwaukee.

Teheran scattered six hits, struck out eight and walked two batters to stop a five-start winless drought (0-2). He is 3-3 in 10 starts and lowered his ERA from 2.20 to 1.92. The righty is 1-1 in six outings at Turner Field and has won both of his career starts against the Rockies.

The Braves won six of seven games against the Rockies a season ago and swept a four-game set at Turner Field from July 29 - Aug. 1.