Johnson homers twice in Braves’ win
ATLANTA (AP)—James Parr has no complaints after his first two major league starts.
Well, except being denied his second win.
Parr pitched six scoreless innings for the second straight start, but the shaky Atlanta bullpen blew a 4-0 lead. Fortunately for the Braves, Kelly Johnson and Chipper Jones hit back-to-back homers that sparked them to a 9-5 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night, dealing another blow to the Rockies’ fading playoff hopes.
“Honestly, at first, I wanted the win,” said Parr, who allowed five hits, struck out five and didn’t walk anyone. “But this is about the team. I want the team to win. I’ve got to go out there and keep us in the game so we can take some momentum into next year.”
The streaking Johnson homered twice for the Braves, who won it with a five-run seventh after the Rockies scored four in the top half to tie the game.
“It feels good,” Johnson said after extending his hitting streak to nine games with his first homer since July 27. “It’s one of those stretches you go through. I just hope to keep it going.”
Parr is on quite a roll. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed only one run in his last 17 innings at Triple-A Richmond, and he’s yet to be scored on since coming up to Atlanta.
He become the first Brave since Kyle Davies in 2005 to pitch 12 scoreless innings at the start of his career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And he’s the first Atlanta hurler since Larry McWilliams in July 1978 to go at least six scoreless innings in each of his first two big-league starts.
“This is pretty awesome,” Parr said. “I couldn’t ask for a better beginning.”
He’s also getting a head start on spring training, when the Braves are likely to be looking for one or two young pitchers to round out their rotation.
“I just like him because he throws his fastball, he works fast and he comes right at you,” Jones said. “We like pitchers like that.”
Johnson, who homered in the first, led off the bottom half of the seventh with a towering drive just inside the right-field foul pole against Luis Vizcaino (1-1). Jones followed with the 407th homer of his career, and Vizcaino was yanked without getting an out after Brian McCann doubled.
“When you don’t make good pitches, you have to pay,” Vizcaino said. “I made bad pitches.”
Jeff Bennett (3-6) got the win by pitching two-thirds of an inning.
Atlanta took its second straight from the Rockies, only the fourth time since the All-Star break the Braves have put together consecutive wins.
The Rockies, who hoped to pull off the sort of September charge that propelled them all the way to the World Series last season, appear done after their fought straight loss. They began the day seven games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and have only 16 games remaining.
“Our window of opportunity is pretty small now,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We need to win ballgames.”
Johnson, the second batter of the game for Atlanta, homered off Livan Hernandez. Yunel Escobar added a run-scoring double in the fourth, and the Braves knocked out Hernandez with two runs in the fifth.
Parr escaped a couple of jams, one with a big assist from center fielder Anderson. Troy Tulowitzki led off the third with a double, and Hernandez moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt. Parr fanned Dexter Fowler, then gave up a long drive to Jeff Baker.
Anderson raced to the wall in left-center and stretched his glove to the yellow line, making the catch as he crashed into the wall. He tumbled onto the warning track, but quickly bounced up and showed the umpires that he, indeed, had the ball.
Parr pumped his fist as the out call was made, and waited outside the dugout to high-five Anderson.
But the Braves’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.
Blaine Boyer took over in the seventh and gave up a homer to Ian Stewart on his third pitch. A walk and a single sent Boyer packing without getting an out. Will Ohman took over and gave up Fowler’s first big league hit. Jeff Bennett gave up a two-run single to Jeff Baker, and Brad Hawpe tied the game at 4 with a sacrifice fly.
Johnson had the fourth multihomer game of his career. … Jones’ homer tied him with Duke Snider for 42nd on the career list. “That just means I’m getting old,” Jones quipped. … Fowler grew up in suburban Atlanta.