Braves continue dominance with 9-0 win over Rockies

Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange

ATLANTA - The Colorado Rockies are more than ready to say good-bye to the Atlanta Braves, particularly left-handed pitcher Mike Minor and first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Minor and Freeman continued their dominance over the Rockies on Wednesday in the Braves' 9-0 win. Atlanta is now 4-2 against the Rockies this year. The teams meet for the final time Thursday.

"Mike did a nice job and we swung the bats from 1 to 8 and put pressure on them," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Sometimes it's hard to pitch with that kind of lead. Mike did a nice job keeping the edge going."

Minor (11-5) pitched seven innings and allowed only two hits, Freeman matched his career high with four hits, and the Braves won their sixth straight to increase their lead in the National League East to 11 games.

"I wasn't as sharp, but I was still making pitches," Minor said. "I was still attacking guys."

Minor beat the Rockies for the second time this season and is now 3-0 against Colorado for his career. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter for the second straight start. At one point, he retired 14 straight.

"He was good, but he's been good all year," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Every time you looked up the count was 0-1."

Minor's pitching effort was somewhat obscured by a 15-hit performance. The focus was on Freeman, who went 4-for-4, his 31st multi-hit game, with a walk and two RBIs. He's knocked in a team-high 71 runs. Freeman is 9-for-24 (.375) against Colorado this season and 29-for-81 (.358) in 21 career games against the Rockies.

The losing pitcher was Tyler Chatwood (7-4), who allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest stint of the season.

"Getting balls up in the middle," Weiss said. "And these guys aren't missing anything in the middle of the plate."

Weiss lamented the ability of his pitching staff to get ahead in the count. It's been a problem in all three games in the series, in which Atlanta has scored 29 runs.

"We've been 1-0, 2-0 consistently the last three nights," Weiss said. "When a team is hot like they are, you're not going to get away with much - and we haven't."

The Braves scored an unearned run in the first inning. Jason Heyward reached when his grounder was botched by second baseman Charlie Culberson. He went to second on a sharp single by Justin Upton and scored on Freeman's single.

Atlanta scored seven times in the third inning, the third straight game the Braves have scored six or more times in an inning. Eight of the first nine batters reached base against Chatwood. Freeman and Evan Gattis each had RBI singles, and Brian McCann hit his 15th homer, a three-run shot. Minor added an RBI single, and the final run scored on Heyward's infield grounder.

Atlanta scored again in the fourth to take a 9-0 lead. Freeman led off with a single and scored two outs later on a well-placed grounder by Chris Johnson that found the hole between third base and shortstop.

NOTES: Colorado LF Carlos Gonzalez left the game in the fourth when he aggravated a sprained finger on his right hand. He will be evaluated and could end up on the disabled list. ... Johnson extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... For the second straight game, Heyward reached first base on a wild pitch after striking out. ... Colorado RHP Roy Oswalt threw a bullpen session Tuesday and will pitch a simulated game Friday in Pittsburgh. Oswalt is expected to make one minor league rehab start before he returns to the rotation. Oswalt was placed on the disabled list July 8 with a left hamstring strain. ... Atlanta C Gerald Laird had a procedure Wednesday to remove a kidney stone that's kept him out of the lineup since July 25. ... Plate umpire Marty Foster had to leave the game in the seventh after being hit on the left forearm by a pitch thrown by Rockies RHP Wilton Lopez. The pitch brushed off the uniform of Atlanta SS Andrelton Simmons and caught Foster flush on the arm. He left the game for treatment and was replaced by Marvin Hudson.