Braves 6, Rockies 4

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ATLANTA (AP)—On a night the team’s only extra-base hit barely reached the outfield grass, the Atlanta Braves were not worried about making any highlight shows.

Instead, the Braves realized the most impressive part of Thursday night’s 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies could be found in the standings, where they extended their lead for the second straight day.

“You take them any way you can get them,” said rookie Charles Thomas, who was 1-for-3 with two RBI. “Some nights you have fireworks and some nights you throw darts.”

Every Braves starter had at least one hit, and the team’s only extra-base hit was a fourth-inning bloop double by Adam LaRoche that fell a few feet beyond the reach of third baseman Vinny Castilla and rolled into foul territory.

The Braves completed a three-game sweep and won their fourth in a row overall as they pushed their NL East lead to a season-high 9 1/2 games. Colorado has lost four straight.

“It stinks anytime you get swept,” said the Rockies’ Todd Helton. “They beat us up pretty good.”

The Braves finished with 11 hits—they’ve reached double digits in hits in six straight games.

“They are playing well, swinging the bat, getting key hits and making pitches at the right time,” Helton said.

Atlanta play host to San Francisco in a four-game series beginning Friday night. The Braves will be facing the Giants for the first time since April 26-28, when they lost two of three games in San Francisco.

“We’ve done a 180 since then,” said the Braves’ Marcus Giles. “We’re two different teams. It’s like we were a Double-A or Triple-A team then and we’re a solid major league team now.”

In 56 games since June 23, when the Braves were six games under .500 at 32-38, Atlanta is 41-15 to move 20 games over .500.

Mike Hampton (10-9) moved to 9-3 in his career against Colorado, where he played in 2001-02. He allowed six hits and four walks in six innings, but gave up only two runs.

“I had to battle through a few innings and get a couple double-play balls,” Hampton said.

Hampton said he keeps an eye on the standings now because the Braves will be playing division rivals throughout September.

“The September stretch is going to be huge because we play about every other team in our division,” Hampton said. “It’s good to stretch the lead now.”

John Smoltz pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 37 chances.

Jamey Wright (1-2) pitched five innings and gave up six earned runs—his most since signing with the team on July 22.

Wright allowed nine hits and four walks.

“I threw some pretty good pitches, but they kept fouling them off,” Wright said. “That lineup is pretty tough to pitch to. They hit some good pitches.”

Wright won his debut with Colorado on July 24 but is 0-2 in his last six starts.

The Braves loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning. A grounder by Chipper Jones drove in one run, and Andruw Jones hit an RBI single with two outs.

Helton tied it with a bases-loaded double in the third inning. Royce Clayton also tried to score on the play from first base, was thrown out at the plate on Giles’ relay from J.D. Drew in right field.

The Braves took a 5-2 lead in the fourth. Andruw Jones led off with a single and moved to third on LaRoche’s double.

Jones scored on a groundout by Thomas and Hampton followed with a run-scoring single. Hampton scored later in the inning on a single by Drew.

Thomas added an RBI single in the fifth. Johnny Estrada led off the inning with a single, moved to third base on two wild pitches by Wright and scored on Thomas’ single.

Castilla hit a two-run double off reliever Antonio Alfonseca in the seventh. The double was the 300th of Castilla’s career.

Notes

Atlanta’s Rafael Furcal stole his 20th base of the season in the first inning, giving him five straight seasons with 20 or more steals. He set his career high with in his 2000 rookie season. … Scott Dohman, who had to leave Tuesday night’s game when he was hit in the neck by a line drive hit by Chipper Jones, returned to pitch a perfect seventh inning for the Rockies.

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