Braves-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

While his better days are surely behind him, 40-year-old Chipper Jones is proving he still has something left in the tank.

After helping the Atlanta Braves overcome a pair of dreadful outings from their starters, Jones looks to lead his club to its first three-game road sweep of the Colorado Rockies in nine seasons Sunday afternoon.

One night after Tim Hudson was tagged for seven runs in the series opener, Atlanta starter Mike Minor allowed eight to cross the plate in five innings Saturday.

Jones was instrumental in helping the Braves (17-11) win despite those ugly efforts, going a combined 6 for 11 with a homer and seven RBIs - a career high-tying five coming Saturday. Atlanta won that contest 13-9 after taking the opener 9-8 in 11 innings.

"If you're going to fall down, fall down early," said Jones, who has 21 RBIs on the season. "We're a confident bunch. We feel like if we can get some things going early in innings, we can string some stuff together. But we hate to keep putting ourselves in these situations. Our starting pitching has got to do a little better job."

The Braves have to like their chances of getting the rotation back on track with Brandon Beachy (2-1, 1.38 ERA) on the hill.

Beachy has been tremendous through his first five turns in the rotation, limiting opponents to a .193 average. He gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings Tuesday but didn't factor in the decision of a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia.

However, the 24-year-old right-hander may not be looking forward to taking the mound at Colorado (12-14), where he gave up a career-worst six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss July 19 - his only career appearance against the Rockies.

Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki both homered for Colorado in that game. Gonzalez in particular has been swinging a hot bat lately. He went 4 for 4 on Saturday and is batting .469 with five homers and 16 RBIs over his last eight contests.

Beachy will be opposed by Juan Nicasio (2-0, 4.40), who continues to impress in his comeback from the broken neck he suffered when he was hit by a line drive in August. Five days after throwing 6 2-3 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh, Nicasio got credit for Monday's 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He gave up two runs while scattering nine hits over six innings, and threw 71 of his career-high 115 pitches for strikes.

"He needs to give us innings, keep us in the games, do the things he's been doing since he's come back from his injury; that's all we're asking any of them to do," manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies' official website.

The right-hander experienced mixed results in two starts against the Braves last season. He was tagged for five runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 6-3 road loss July 7, before allowing one over seven frames at home July 20 - a game the Rockies won 3-2 in walk-off fashion.

Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario belted two homers Saturday while Michael Cuddyer hit the team's third grand slam in its last eight games.

Atlanta has taken eight of 10 from Colorado overall, but hasn't posted a three-game sweep at Coors Field since Aug. 22-24, 2003.

Jones is batting .322 with 31 career homers against the Rockies - his most home runs against any opponent not in the NL East.

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