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Braves top Rockies in cold game between hot teams

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Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Luis Avilan (43) works against the Colorado Rockies during the seventh …

DENVER (AP) -- The coldest day ever at Coors Field was short-sleeve weather for Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor.

Starting a day-night doubleheader that opened with the temperature at 23 degrees, Justin Upton hit his major league-leading 10th home run, Dan Uggla and rookie Evan Gattis also connected in support of Minor's solid outing and the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3 Tuesday.

Reed Johnson, playing right field for Atlanta because Jason Heyward underwent an appendectomy Monday night, went 4 for 4 with three doubles. Heyward was put on the 15-day disabled list.

The matchup featured baseball's hottest teams - Colorado and Atlanta each began the day at 13-5, tied for the best record in the major leagues - in the coldest gametime temperature in the majors since it began collecting data in 1991, according to STATS. The Rockies said the previous low at Coors Field was 28.

''I think that one is going to be short-lived,'' Braves said manager Fredi Gonzalez said between games. ''I think the next one is going to break the record.''

Donning a short-sleeve jersey with his standard T-shirt underneath while many of the other players were bundled up, Minor (3-1) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He said he decided against warmer attire because he wanted the same freedom of movement he feels with his arms uncovered.

''I don't know what it is, but with (long) sleeves on, I feel restricted,'' he said. ''It's just a feeling and you want to feel comfortable out there.''

To a degree, anyway.

''It was all right,'' Minor said. ''The biggest thing was grip, just being cold and dry. I pretty much just battled through it.''

At one point, Minor admitted he got so cold that he had a trainer rub his back, arms and thighs with a heating ointment.

''I was burning up there,'' he said with a smile.

Upton said giving Minor an early lead helped.

''You always want to get ahead,'' Upton said. ''Let Mike settle in and know that he doesn't have to be too perfect.''

Especially on a day like this.

By the time Craig Kimbrel, pitched a one-hit ninth for his eighth save in eight chances, the temperature had warmed up to 27.

''You can't feel your hands when you go up there. You have to continue your focus and concentrate,'' said the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez.

Upton felt the same way.

''It's more in your hands,'' he said. ''You use your hands a lot in the game and that's the worst part - your hands get a little cold. But if you can keep your hands warm and keep them feeling the bat and the ball, you'll be fine.''

Gattis hit a tiebreaking home run in the fourth and ended the game by throwing out Wilin Rosario trying to steal second.

Jeff Francis (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, leaving him with an 8.44 ERA.

''The ball was slick,'' Francis said. ''That's why I didn't throw my curveball. But there's no excuse''

Ground crews began working at around 6 a.m. to clear several inches of snow from the playing surface at Coors Field, which opened in 1995. While there was no sign of snow on the field when the game started, some parts of the ballpark remained closed, including the snow-filled Rockpile section in center. Workers hosed off the snow on the stand of evergreen trees beyond the center field wall. It was important that the trees be cleared of the snow because they're part of the green ''batters' eye'' background.

It's been a wintry April for Denver, which has been hit by a wave of snowy weather over the past nine days that forced postponements of games three times. The delays led to two doubleheaders within a week.

Upton hit a solo drive in the first, and Uggla's two-run homer in the second made it 3-0. Colorado closed in the second on Rosario's run-scoring groundout and Jordan Pacheco's RBI single, then tied the score in the third when Dexter Fowler tripled to the right-field wall and Josh Rutledge singled.

Gattis homered leading off the fourth.

NOTES: The announced crowd was 19,124. ... INF Tyler Pastornicky was recalled from Triple A Gwinnett to fill Heyward's roster spot. ... Gattis leads all major league rookies with six home runs. ... Rutledge stole his fifth base, adding to the Rockies league-leading total of 17. ... The Rockies were 0-3 at home against the Braves last year and 1-6 overall.

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