Braves’ Comeback Bid Falls Short After Late HRs

Charlie Blackmon couldn’t pass up a chance to be “Chuck Nazty” in his hometown. But DJ LeMahieu, whose style is in his lack of swagger, did Blackmon one better as the Rockies showed life in their quest.

Blackmon, who is wearing his nickname on his back during Players Weekend, knocked a two-run ninth-inning homer. And LeMahieu, whose jersey says “DJ,” went deep twice — including in the ninth after Blackmon’s — as the Rockies beat the Braves, 7-6, at SunTrust Park on Saturday night.
The Rockies hold the second National League Wild Card spot even though the victory was just their sixth in their last 18 games.
“The margin between getting in the playoffs and not getting in the playoffs is never big, so every win counts,” Blackmon said. “And I do think that winning these close games, emotional games, can sometimes seem like they’re more important.”
Even after the back-to-back homers, the game had suspense. Slumping All-Star closer Greg Holland gave up a Matt Adams two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth, the fourth homer Holland has allowed in his last 6 1/3 innings over eight games. Lefty Jake McGee replaced Holland and earned his second save by forcing a Brandon Phillips double-play grounder, which occurred with Braves home run leader Freddie Freeman on deck.
Blackmon, a Gwinnett County, Ga., and Georgia Tech product, shook off a left hamstring cramp that knocked him out of Friday’s loss to the Braves to homer for the 31st time — most of any Major League leadoff hitter. The shot came off Arodys Vizcaino after Carlos Gonzalez (aka “CarGo”) led off the ninth with a pinch-hit single.
LeMahieu, who homered the opposite way to right in the fifth off Braves starter Sean Newcomb, chased Vizcaino with a pull shot to left for his first career multi-homer game.
“It kind of happened so fast, and he had been really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He has been lights-out, and it didn’t happen tonight.”
Newcomb didn’t get out of the fifth inning, as the Rockies tagged him for four runs on seven hits. Over his last 10 starts, he owns a 5.76 ERA.
“I noticed that they were fouling a lot of stuff off on two-strike counts,” Newcomb said. “They did a good job fighting off good pitches, staying alive and making something out of it.”
Prior to the ninth-inning homers, Vizcaino had not allowed a run over the 9 1/3 innings he had compiled since gaining the closer’s role at the end of July. He hadn’t allowed a home run over 13 innings dating back to July 1, and this was only the second time in his career he has allowed two homers in an outing.
“We will give him a chance tomorrow, as he didn’t throw a lot of pitches,” Snitker said. “He should be ready to go tomorrow to save the game.”
LeMahieu’s power was unusual. The homers gave him six this season, but were his first since July 17. After LeMahieu’s first homer in the fifth inning, a truly odd moment for the Rockies — at least during their difficult recent stretch — occurred. Trevor Story doubled in two runs to chase Newcomb and give the Rockies a 4-2 lead. Before that on this road trip, the Rockies had scored multiple runs just twice in 40 innings, and never three.
“Runs have been hard to come by lately, and we haven’t been good situationally, haven’t really got the hits we need,” Story said. “We put ourselves in good spots, but just haven’t got the big hit. It was good to do that, for sure.”
Rockies manager Bud Black said, “We’ve talked about stringing hits together, and we did that in a couple different innings. That’s going to create action.”
Finding their footing: Braves middle infielders Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson have found their swings, and they displayed them in a two-run sixth that forged a 4-4 game. Albies, who is wearing “Bolly” on his back, had extended his season-best hit streak to seven games with a fourth-inning triple. In the sixth, Albies doubled to right off Rockies starter Kyle Freeland for an RBI. Swanson, or “Dans,” who has a better than .500 on-base percentage since Aug. 12, smashed a one-hopper off third baseman Nolan Arenado’s shoulder for a single that drove in another run.
“[Albies] is really working his tail off and playing really good,” Snitker said. “It is happening for him, and he is conscious of things. You can just see what an exciting player he is.”
“He was off-target a little. It didn’t look crazy wild, but he was just missing [his spots]. It was not enough strikes. … You see a good breaking ball here and there and a fastball, but too many deep counts and a lot of pitches the first couple of innings. Probably the biggest hit was not putting Parra away with two strikes. He had him, but couldn’t finish him off.” — Snitker, on Newcomb’s performance
Albies has four triples in his first 23 career games. The last Braves player to collect this total within this span was Chet Ross, who notched his fourth triple as he played in his 22nd career game in 1940.
Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound in Sunday’s series finale at 12:35 p.m. CT. After allowing three earned runs or fewer in 16 of his first 19 starts, Foltynewicz has since allowed at least five earned runs in four of his last five starts.