One of the keys to Jordan Lyles' surprising early success was avoiding trouble in the first inning.
After failing to do so the last time out en route to his first loss, he seeks a happy homecoming Friday night as Colorado opens a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
Lyles (5-1, 3.50 ERA), just two wins shy of his career high established last year with Houston, had held hitters to a .206 batting average with two runs allowed and one walk in the first inning of his previous eight starts. That's what made Saturday's opening against San Diego surprising - he walked three batters, hit a fourth and gave up a two-run double in a 37-pitch first with only 16 strikes.
The end result was the right-hander's worst outing of the season, as he gave up six runs with a career-high six walks in 3 1-3 innings of an 8-5 defeat to the Padres.
''I just didn't throw enough strikes,'' said Lyles, who has walked 10 in 9 1-3 innings over his last two starts after allowing 10 in 44 2-3 in his previous seven. "You can't put guys on base that many times. It's just one of those things you learn from. Turn the corner and get better from it.''
The native of Columbus, Georgia, is facing the Braves for the first time since his only outing against them as a rookie on June 11, 2011. He yielded two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-3, 10-inning home loss with the Astros.
"I'm expecting to leave 30 or 40 tickets. I've heard maybe a bus or two is coming," Lyles told MLB's official website. "I'm looking for a big crowd from my parts of the woods."
The Rockies (26-21) have been held to three runs in their last two contests, though their latest game against San Francisco on Thursday was suspended in the bottom of the sixth inning tied at 2.
Troy Tulowitzki, batting a team-high .378, has hit .247 in 24 road games this season and is a lifetime .203 hitter in 17 contests at Turner Field.
Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez is day to day after aggravating a left middle finger injury. He has also struggled on the road this season, batting .202 in 23 games, but is batting .387 with two homers in 10 games in Atlanta.
The Braves (26-20) enter the second leg of their nine-game homestand after taking three of four from NL Central-leading Milwaukee. They rallied for a 5-4 win Thursday as Gerald Laird and Ryan Doumit provided the run-scoring hits in a three-run seventh, the latter delivering a two-run double.
"They stuck their noses in there with some tough counts and facing some tough situations. They got big results," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team's official website.
Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.41) makes his third start since recovering from offseason elbow surgery. The right-hander was fairly sharp at St. Louis on Sunday, but a passed ball by Laird on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout in the second led to three unearned runs.
Floyd yielded four runs overall in 5 1-3 innings and left without a decision before the Braves rallied for a 6-5 win. He has gone 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Rockies, the last coming in 2011.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward is batting .368 during a 10-game hitting streak that has lifted his average 35 points to .241.