Braves welcome Rockies to Turner Field
After flexing their muscles against the top team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves turn their attention to the Colorado Rockies on Monday for the opener of a four-game set at Turner Field.
Atlanta is coming off a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, owners of the best record in the majors. The Braves (60-45) are 8 1/2 games up in the National League East, as they are vying for their first division title since 2005.
Kris Medlen tossed six solid innings and Jason Heyward homered and drove in two runs in Sunday's 5-2 victory of the Cardinals. Third baseman Chris Johnson went 3-for-4 and scored three times to raise his National League-leading batting average to .338. He has gone 10-for-21 during a six-game hitting streak. Closer Craig Kimbrel notched his 31st save.
The Rockies (51-55) are six games back of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. They just concluded a 5-5 homestand by taking two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, including Sunday's 6-5 victory.
Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki hit two of Colorado's four homers.
"We know we're a talented team. We know we can compete with anyone in the league," Cuddyer said. "We've just got to be consistent. Hopefully (Sunday) was a stepping stone for that."
The Rockies could also use All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez back in the lineup. Gonzalez has missed the last three games with a sprained right middle finger but said he will likely have to play through pain the rest of the season after talking with doctors.
"They thought about putting me on the DL, and I asked them, 'What if I rest 15 days and come back and feel better?' He goes, 'No, you go on the DL, you're going to feel the same way,'" Gonzalez said. "It's actually something that will take more than 15 days. But I guess I'm just going to have to play through it."
Colorado will begin a 10-game road trip with Jorge De La Rosa on the mound Monday night. The left-hander notched his 10th win of the season with six scoreless frames against Miami last week, as he also lowered his ERA to 2.97.
Brandon Beachy gets the start for Atlanta in what will be his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Beachy is taking the place of the injured Tim Hudson in Atlanta's rotation. Hudson was lost for the season when Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. stepped on his ankle at first base Wednesday night.
"Obviously, it's going to be a little faster here than it has been in Triple- A, but there was definitely a moment where things started slowing down and I just felt in control no matter what the count, what the situation," said Beachy, who had a 2.50 ERA in four rehab starts.
The right-hander was leading the NL with a 2.00 ERA at the time of his elbow injury on June 16, 2012.
"(It's) like getting a big piece in a trade at the deadline. Before he got hurt he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I don't think he'll be that his first time out, but I think he'll be close."
Atlanta has won 14 of the last 18 meetings with Colorado, including eight of nine at home.