Miller’s Winless Streak Continues for Braves

Braves5Behind a pieced-together pitching performance and just enough offense, the Rockies picked up a 5-3 victory over the Braves on Friday night at Coors Field.

Right-hander Gonzalez Germen and left-hander Aaron Laffey (1-0) — both called up before Friday’s game — combined to throw 5 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and three runs with two walks and one strikeout. Kelly Johnson did launch a three-run homer off Laffey, but LaTroy Hawkins, Boone Logan, Tommy Kahnle and John Axford finished off the victory.
“It’s kind of like Spring Training, and this is not a familiar team either,” Johnson said in reference to the Braves facing 11 different pitchers while losing the first two games of this series. “They don’t have a lot of guys we have history with, and we haven’t face them this year at all. That is actually harder than you might think.”
The Rockies’ offense, meanwhile, did its part. The catalyst was a three-run fourth, during which Colorado banged out five hits in a six-batter span, including RBI knocks from Daniel Descalso, Brandon Barnes and DJ LeMahieu. Carlos Gonzalez put on the final touches with a long solo homer in the fifth. All that damage came off Braves All-Star Shelby Miller (5-5), who gave up five runs and a season-high 11 hits over five innings, and is winless in last 10 starts.
Throwing out of the stretch the entire way, Germen was effective in his first career Major League start. He was on a pitch limit and threw just 34 in three innings, but Germen limited the Braves to just two baserunners. After Jace Peterson singled to lead off the game, the right-hander retired the next seven batters before walking Miller. Germen was called up in a pinch after David Hale — Colorado’s originally scheduled Friday starter — pitched in relief on Thursday.
“I wasn’t nervous — that’s just baseball,” said Germen, who has moved from the Mets to the Cubs to the Rockies over the last two seasons. “From one team to another team. New team. New guys. There were no nerves because last year was the same.”
Shelby loses his cool: After limiting the Rockies to one run and four hits through the first three innings, Shelby Miller surrendered two singles and a Descalso triple before recording his first out in the three-run fourth. But his emotions seemed to truly turn when left fielder Jonny Gomes was not able to get to a Charlie Blackmon fly ball that resulted in a triple. Miller stared into his dugout after the Blackmon triple and slammed the rosin bag when LeMahieu followed with a fly ball that eluded a sliding Cameron Maybin and bounced over the wall for a double.
“I really didn’t have anything that was sharp,” Miller said. “Nothing was really there tonight at all.”
After Logan gave up a pair of two-out singles in the eighth to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, Weiss called on Kahnle to face Chris Johnson. The hard-throwing right-hander quickly got ahead 0-2 on a 96-mph fastball and an 89-mph changeup but then missed with two fastballs. Kahnle, however, showed why Weiss continues to use him in late-game situations, getting Johnson to chase on another 89-mph changeup.
Kelly Johnson’s three-run homer in the sixth inning snapped the Braves’ 36-inning scoreless streak while Miller was the pitcher of record. The drought extended back to Freddie Freeman’s first-inning home run at Citi Field on June 13.
“I kind of got out of whack a little bit just rushing toward the plate and not sitting on my back side,” Laffey said. “The ball Johnson hit was just a cutter that kind of got side to side on me, and he stayed on it well and put a good swing on it.”
Kelly Johnson clubs a three-run shot into the seats in left, pulling the Braves within two runs in the 6th
Miller has posted a 3.32 ERA while going winless in his past 10 starts, the Braves have totaled 10 runs while he has been the pitcher of record in those outings. Friday night marked just the second time during this span that the offense scored at least three runs while he was in the game.
With no outs in the seventh, the Rockies appeared to have a strike-’em-out-throw-’em out double play, but Jonny Gomes was called safe at second. Manager Walt Weiss challenged the play, and video evidence showed LeMahieu tagged Gomes on the arm before his left foot reached the base.
Matt Wisler will make his fifth career start when Atlanta and Colorado resume their four-game series on Saturday at 3:10 p.m. CT.  Thunder Radio will have that broadcast beginning at 2:00 PM.