ATLANTA — Trevor Story felt some relief after doubling in two runs in the fifth inning, especially since the Colorado Rockies have been struggling at the plate for most of the month.
“We’ve put ourselves in good spots, but just haven’t gotten big hits or gotten the job done,” Story said. “It was good to do that for sure.”
Charlie Blackmon hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth inning and D.J. LeMahieu added two solo shots to help Colorado hold off the Atlanta Braves 7-6 on Saturday night.
LeMahieu’s second homer made it a three-run game and chased Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino as the Rockies improved to 6-12 since Aug. 6. Colorado began the day with a 3 1/2-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot, but they had lost 24 of 31 on the road.
Blackmon showed no aftereffects from leaving Friday’s game early with a left hamstring cramp. He ran the bases and played the field with no apparent issues before facing Vizcaino. Pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez led off with a single to set the stage for Blackmon’s opposite-field shot.
“We’ve been talking about big hits for a couple of weeks now,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Trevor gave us one. Charlie gave us one. We’ve talked about stringing hits together and we did that in couple of different innings.”
The Rockies began the night hitting .209 with runners in scoring position over their last 17 games.
Vizcaino (3-3), who had a 1.42 ERA in his last 41 games, was not in a save situation, but he allowed three runs and three hits while failing to record an out. He was pulled after LeMahieu’s sixth homer made it 7-4.
Pat Neshek (4-3) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win. Rockies closer Greg Holland was pulled in the ninth after giving up Matt Adams’ pinch-hit, two-run homer and Ender Inciarte’s single, but Jake McGee earned his second save in five chances when Brandon Phillips grounded into a double play.
The Rockies took a 4-2 lead in the fifth when LeMahieu homered and Story doubled to chase Braves starter Sean Newcomb.
Newcomb gave up four runs, seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. The left-hander has a 5.76 ERA in his last 10 starts.
“They were fouling a lot of stuff off with two strikes,” he said. “I felt like they did a good job fouling off good pitches and staying alive and making something out of it.”
Colorado starter Kyle Freeland allowed four runs, 10 hits, one walk and struck out five in six innings.
Atlanta went up 2-1 in the third on Brandon Phillips’ RBI single and Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly. The Rockies led 1-0 in the second on Pat Valaika’s RBI single.
Ozzie Albies went 3 for 4, flashed exceptional speed on a triple that easily beat the cutoff throw in the fourth. His RBI double in the sixth cut the lead to 4-3. Albies is hitting .412 over his last nine games. He has four triples and is the first Braves player to have that many in his first 23 games since Chet Ross had four in 1939-40. Dansby Swanson, who went 2 for 3 with a walk, singled in the second run of the inning to make it 4-all. Swanson is hitting .400 in his last 40 at-bats.
Rockies: INF-OF Ian Desmond, on the disabled for the second time this year with a strained right calf, is rehabbing at Albuquerque and will be re-evaluated Sunday. Black indicated he could return to the lineup Monday at home against Detroit.
Braves: Manager Brian Snitker said INF Johan Camargo (right knee bruise) and 3B Adonis Garcia (finger surgery) are at least a week away from returning to the majors.
TAKE A BREAK
Black said RHP Jeff Hoffman is getting shut down until next week after struggling in his first start since getting demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque last week. Hoffman, who lasted just two-thirds of an inning and gave up six runs, will not pitch for five or six days and then will pitch just one inning in his next appearance, after which he will rejoin Albuquerque’s rotation. In 16 starts and one relief appearance with Colorado, Hoffman went 6-5 with a 5.30 ERA.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (5-3, 4.54 ERA) will make his 14th start. He beat the Braves on Aug. 16 in Denver, but he’s 1-3 with a 5.72 ERA in eight road starts.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (10-9, 4.95 ERA) will make his 25th start and is 1-4 with a 10.64 ERA in his last five starts. He is 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA in four career starts against Colorado.
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