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ATL@COL: Braves put seven runs on the board in 1st

DENVER -- Now that he has endured the two worst starts of his career at Coors Field, Mike Minor might alter his assessment that everything plays pretty much the same at this offensive haven.

Or he could simply hope that any misery he experiences during future trips here is shared the way it was on Tuesday night, when the Braves put up a seven-run first inning and then stressed their way toward a 13-10 win over the Rockies.

"That's a good win on what could have been a tough day," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I've been in this office many times in that same situation with a loss hanging over your head. Our guys battled."

After seeing his team tally season highs in runs and hits (16), Gonzalez actually started his postgame media session by praising closer Craig Kimbrel, who threw seven fastballs -- none of which registered below 98 mph -- as he recorded three strikeouts during a perfect ninth to put an unfitting end to a night ruled by the offenses.

"It's a tough way to go," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The guys fought back. We picked the wrong night to score 10."

All of Atlanta's offensive contributions nearly went to waste, though, as Minor lasted just four-plus innings and matched the career-high eight earned runs he allowed on May 5, 2012, during the first of his only two previous starts at Coors Field. Coincidentally, the Braves won that game, 13-9.

Fortunately for Minor, the Braves' offense continued what it started against Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, who allowed 10 earned runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. When these two pitchers opposed each other at Turner Field on May 24, Nicasio allowed two hits over six scoreless innings and Minor was charged with three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

"I've seen plenty of games like this here before," Minor said. "I walk out of here feeling good for my team because we got the win, because me and [Nicasio] weren't very good tonight. It's tough to pitch here."

Although Andrelton Simmons highlighted the first-inning eruption with a grand slam and each member of Atlanta's starting lineup recorded at least one hit, the Braves might not have won without the contributions of David Hale, who allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings and recorded his first career hit -- a seventh-inning single -- after replacing Minor in the fifth.

The Braves also once again had to give credit to Shae Simmons, who eliminated the threat a rusty Jordan Walden created after walking the first three batters he faced in the eighth inning of a four-run game.

The unflappable Simmons, who was making just his seventh career appearance, allowed just one of the three inherited runners to score, courtesy of Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly.

"He's been terrific every single time," Gonzalez said. "I don't think he's had an easy inning since he's been up to the big leagues. He's had some difficult innings that he's come in to pitch, and he's done well."

Despite the fact that seven of the first eight hitters they sent to the plate recorded a hit, the Braves did not deliver the crushing blow until they plated three two-out runs in the sixth inning. Freddie Freeman scored the decisive run when Wilin Rosario's attempt to prevent him from advancing to third base on a passed ball sailed into left field. Evan Gattis, who now has an 11-game hitting streak, and Tommy La Stella provided insurance with RBI singles off Chad Bettis.

"A 7-0 lead at Coors Field is like one or two to nothing," Freeman said. "It's good to see that it kept going all the way throughout the game."

Jason Heyward started the game with a double and scored on B.J. Upton's triple. After Upton scored on Freeman's groundout, Nicasio allowed five straight hits -- four singles and Simmons' slam, which narrowly cleared the center-field wall.

After gaining a comfortable lead before throwing his first pitch, Minor allowed each of the first four hitters to reach safely. Still, he could have limited the damage to two runs had the Rockies not tallied a third when catcher Gattis got crossed up on a pitch that bounced off his chest protector, allowing Troy Tulowitzki to score.

"Me and Gattis, before we walked out there [in the first inning], we said we're going to act like this is a 0-0 ballgame," Minor said. "It was obvious I couldn't throw a curveball for a strike. They eliminated every offspeed pitch and my fastball, I was barely missing with those, too. I just couldn't throw them over the plate. It was just one of those nights."

Minor bounced back from his 38-pitch first inning to trade zeros with Nicasio in the second inning. The two then surrendered RBI singles to each other in the third.

Once the Rockies cut their deficit to three runs through three innings, the Braves regained some cushion courtesy of the solo homers Freeman and Gattis hit off Nicasio in the fourth. But Minor allowed a two-out solo homer to Rosario in the bottom half of the inning and then exited after Colorado began the fifth with a Josh Rutledge triple and DJ LeMahieu single.

"The [Rockies] have done this for many years," Gonzalez said. "They play 81 games here [every season], and they know how to play that game. Fortunately, we have a lot of guys who have played that game here as well. You don't give away [at-bats]. You keep playing hard, because you just never know." Comments