DENVER (AP)—Jair Jurrjens missed a step in the dugout in Chicago last week, rolling an ankle and forcing him to skip a start.
The Atlanta rookie didn’t miss a step in his return Monday night, pitching into the eighth without allowing a run as the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 7-1 in a makeup game from a snowout in April.
“He was phenomenal tonight,” catcher Brian McCann said. “He made his pitches when he had to.”
The layoff was good for Jurrjens, giving a bothersome blister on his thumb more time to heal.
“I feel like I got my changeup back today,” he said. “Maybe it was the altitude, the air? I had a really good feeling today.”
Jurrjens (7-3) won for the seventh time this season, tops among rookies in the major leagues. He struck out seven and allowed eight hits in a career-high 7 2-3 innings.
Neither the blister nor the ankle gave him any trouble.
“Everything’s fine,” Jurrjens said. “I tried to have fun again.”
Chipper Jones rediscovered his smooth swing Monday, going 2-for-4, including a two-run single in the fifth to break open a scoreless game. Jones, mired in a 2-for-15 slump entering the game, raised his average one point to .403.
After a strikeout in the third, his average stood right at .400. Not that he was concerned.
“I didn’t think about it one time,” Jones said. “Once you are immersed in the game, the at-bat at the time is the most important moment of the game.”
“We didn’t exactly drive it everywhere tonight, nor did they,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “This ballpark plays different than it used to.”
Jurrjens pitched out of jams all night, including the seventh when he gave up a triple to Brad Hawpe to open the inning.
However, after walking Chris Iannetta, Jurrjens struck out Omar Quintanilla on his best changeup of the night, got a nifty over-the-shoulder catch by Jones on Scott Podsednik’s blooper to short left and then enticed Willy Taveras to ground out to end the threat.
In McCann’s opinion, Jurrjens was like the pitcher before the blister problem.
“He’s not going to make excuses, so I’ll make them for him,” McCann said. “I could definitely tell things weren’t right (because of the blister). But he didn’t want to miss a start. He battled every time out there when he had that. I think that ankle injury was probably the best thing to happen to him.”
Jurrjens laughed at the assertion.
“I’m happy to be out there again,” he said.
Ubaldo Jimenez struggled with his command all game, tying a career-high with five walks over five innings. He allowed three runs—two earned—and struck out seven.
Jimenez (1-7) hasn’t won since April 8 against Atlanta, a span of 13 starts.
“He definitely wasn’t sharp,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s so close in so many ways, but there’s still that glitch (the wildness). It’s cost him some wins.”
Jimenez pitched brilliantly in his previous start, not allowing a run over seven innings against San Francisco on June 11.
But his erratic control led to his undoing Monday. His command has been a concern most of the season, not that Jimenez is dwelling on it.
“I try not to think that way,” Jimenez said. “I try to put my last start behind me.”
The Rockies averted the shutout in the ninth when Podsednik dumped a single to left to score Iannetta. Colorado hasn’t been shut out at Coors Field since a 3-0 loss to Arizona on May 15, 2007.
Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (torn left quad) and INF Clint Barmes (sprained right knee) will head to Triple-A Colorado Springs on a rehab assignment beginning Tuesday. … Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba sat out the second and final day of his suspension for his role in a fight with Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp on June 3. … The Rockies announced Jorge De La Rosa as the starter Thursday against Cleveland. … Braves 2B Kelly Johnson drew three walks and scored twice.