Braves-Rockies Preview

NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO (STATS Writer)
The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves are searching for momentum, and they may have found the start of some against a team they've dominated.

The Braves look to beat the Colorado Rockies again Tuesday night when this four-game series at Coors Field continues.

Atlanta (33-29) has won just five of 13 games after beating Colorado 3-1 on Monday. However, that was their 21st victory in 26 meetings with the Rockies (29-34), and eighth in 11 visits to Denver.

Maintaining that dominance could help the Braves in the crowded NL East, which has them tied for first with Washington while Miami lurks one-half game back in third.

Despite Atlanta's success against Colorado, Mike Minor (2-4, 3.07 ERA) was on the mound for the team's most recent defeat to the Rockies.

The left-hander was charged with a 3-1 loss to Colorado on May 24, yielding three runs and two homers in 6 1-3 innings. He had won his three previous meetings with the Rockies behind a 1.35 ERA.

The left-hander has been superb over his last five starts, compiling a 1.87 ERA, but is just 2-2 due to little offensive support. He's lost his last two decisions over his past three outings, getting no runs in two of them and three in the other.

The former was the case Wednesday, when he allowed one run with 10 strikeouts in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to Seattle.

Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson are certainly producing at the plate.

Gattis has a career-high 10-game hitting streak during which he's batting .359 with four homers and 11 RBIs. He had an RBI single Monday, while Johnson collected three hits and two RBIs.

"It's nice to get back and get in that big part of the field and stay up the middle and have my bat be short to the ball," said Johnson.

The third baseman is a .370 career hitter against the Rockies, batting .438 in nine road meetings.

The Rockies have dropped 10 of 11 games, and are again turning to Juan Nicasio (5-4, 4.68) opposite Minor. He held the Braves to two hits in six scoreless innings May 24, but has been hammered in two starts since.

Nicasio has surrendered 12 runs and 20 hits - three homers - in 10 innings while losing both.

The right-hander's latest was his worst of the season. He was hammered for seven runs and 11 hits, two going for homers, in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-7 defeat to Arizona.

Nicasio has already served up 12 homers in 67 1-3 innings, five shy of his career high from last year in 157 2-3 innings. He's given up eight at home, among the most in the majors.

"Home runs come when pitches are elevated, especially here," manager Walt Weiss told the team's official website. "It's imperative that we pitch to the bottom of the zone and make opposing hitters have to dig the ball out of the bottom of the zone."

Nicasio has allowed Freddie Freeman to go deep on three of five hits in nine at-bats against him, allowing a double and a triple on the others.

Johnson is 4 for 11 with a double versus Nicasio.