Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Todd Helton recorded his first four-hit game since the summer of 2009, and his final hit back through the middle scored Carlos Gonzalez with the eventual winning run, as the Colorado Rockies edged the Atlanta Braves, 5-4, in the first of three games at Coors Field.
Jonny Venters (4-1) failed to retire any of the three big Colorado hitters, as Gonzalez singled and Troy Tulowitzki walked before Helton battled the tough southpaw over a nine-pitch at-bat. He was buzzed on a pitch that actually hit his bat then stood in and stroked a run-scoring single to center.
Helton’s heroics made a winner of Rafael Betancourt (4-1), who gave up the tying run at the time on two hits with one walk while striking out the side. Gonzalez had two hits and Ian Stewart hit a two-run home run for the Rockies, winners in two straight.
The top of the Braves order did all of their damage, as Omar Infante, Jason Heyward and Martin Prado finished a combined 7-for-14 with three runs scored. Prado hit a two-run home run for the Braves, who have dropped two of three. Atlanta remained 2 1/2 games in front of Philadelphia in the National League East standings, as the Phillies lost, 3-2, to Houston.
Tim Hudson started on the mound for the Braves, but got a no-decision after yielding four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk over six frames. The right-hander was 5-0 with a 0.82 earned run average over his previous six starts.
Jason Hammel opposed the Braves right-hander and held his own, giving up three runs on nine hits with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 frames.
The Braves left two men on base in the top of the third, then Colorado struck first in the home half. Dexter Fowler grounded a single to center and Gonzalez followed with a double past Heyward in right for the early lead.
The home-standing Rockies added two more runs in the fourth as Helton ripped a double and Stewart crushed a 1-2 fastball into the rock formation in center field for a 3-0 edge.
Atlanta finally got to Hammel with a two-out rally in the fifth as Heyward laced a single to left and Prado drove an eye-high fastball over the wall in center for a 3-2 game.
Tulowitzki kicked off the sixth with his 25th two-bagger of the season and he quickly came around to score on Helton’s single to center.
The Braves chipped away, tying the game with single runs in the seventh and eighth frames. Rick Ankiel clubbed a solo shot to right in the seventh then Alex Gonzalez hit a perfectly-placed double into left-center field, scoring Prado with the tying run. Ankiel, however, struck out to leave two runners in scoring position.
Colorado manager Jim Tracy picked up his 700th managerial victory…Helton’s last four-hit game came on July 10, 2009…Hudson has surrendered 17 runs in his last 15 innings over three starts at Coors Field…Hammel gave up seven runs on eight hits in just 1 2/3 frames versus the Braves back on April 16.