Atlanta wraps prolific series
by Charles Odum
Associated Press Sports Writer
August 01, 2013 11:59 PM | 861 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Justin Upton, left, and Jason Heyward each homered Thursday, with Upton going deep twice as the Braves completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies and a perfect seven-game homestand.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Justin Upton, left, and Jason Heyward each homered Thursday, with Upton going deep twice as the Braves completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies and a perfect seven-game homestand.
Associated Press photo
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ATLANTA — Justin Upton can't explain why he hit only one homer in July and then hit two on the first day of August.

Fredi Gonzalez said he just hopes to see more of the Braves’ offensive surge that led to a perfect homestand.

Upton drove in five runs with two homers, Julio Teheran matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 11-2 on Thursday night for their seventh straight win.

Upton hit 12 homers in April, becoming the fastest player in franchise history to reach that mark, but he had a power decline for the next three months. He has 18 homers for the season.

“It comes and it goes,” Upton said. “You've got to enjoy it when it's going well for you and the ball is carrying out of the park for you. You've got to ride it out.”

Jason Heyward added a two-run homer and Chris Johnson had three hits as the Braves completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies. Atlanta had 14 hits, giving the team five straight games with at least 10 hits.

“I feel like this is the best I've seen us play consecutively so far,” said shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who called the team's offensive roll “a little crazy.”

“I really felt like no matter how many runs they scored, we were going to outscore them,” Simmons said.

Atlanta's 7-0 homestand also included three wins over St. Louis. The NL East-leading Braves stretched their lead over idle Washington to 11½ games.

The Braves outscored the Rockies 31-5 in the last three games of the series.

“This was a rough series, no way around it,” said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, whose team was close only in a 9-8 loss in 10 innings in the series opener.

“Other than the first one, the other three were ugly,” Weiss said. “I'll make sure that we still compete. I don't question these guys in that respect. I don't think that's going to be a problem. We need to do that regardless of how we're playing and where we're at. That's something that is expected all the time.”

Upton hit .400 in the homestand with 10 hits 25 at-bats. His surge came after Gonzalez tweaked the lineup, moving Heyward to leadoff and Upton to the No. 2 spot.

“I think it's just that we're swinging right now and hopefully it's contagious,” Gonzalez said.

The Rockies were without outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez. The middle of their lineup took another hit when Troy Tulowitzki was ejected in the second inning.

Weiss said Cuddyer was away on a family emergency. Carlos Gonzalez was held out after aggravating his sprained right middle finger on Wednesday night.

Teheran (8-5) struck out the side in the third and fifth innings. He lasted only five innings, allowing one run and five hits and two walks, in his third straight start of allowing no more than one run.

Colorado's Chad Bettis (0-1), called up from Double-A Tulsa for his major league debut, allowed five runs and six hits and five walks in five innings.

“I liked what I saw from Chad,” Weiss said. “He got a ball up that got hit out early, but I thought there was a lot to like there. A lot of power, a lot of poise. He's got plenty of stuff.”

The Braves led 2-0 before Bettis recorded his first out. Heyward walked and Upton followed with his first homer since July 9. Upton added a three-run shot off Edgmer Escalona in the eighth. Escalona gave up five runs while getting only one out.

Teheran had two hits, including a second-inning double to drive in Simmons. Teheran singled to lead off the fourth and scored on Heyward's homer.

Colorado loaded the bases in the first when Dexter Fowler walked, Corey Dickerson beat out a dribbler to the mound and, with one out, Wilin Rosario had another infield single. Teheran ended the inning by striking out Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado — each on three pitches.

The Rockies’ frustrations continued in the second when they managed only one run after again loading the bases with one out. Charlie Blackmon doubled and had to hold up before seeing DJ LeMahieu's double could not be caught by Upton in right field.

Fowler walked with one out, loading the bases, before Upton made a leaping catch of Dickerson's fly ball in front of the wall. Blackmon scored on the play.

Tulowitzki took a called third strike on a slow curveball from Teheran to end the inning. As his teammates began to take their defensive positions, Tulowitzki remained at home plate, arguing the call with umpire Marvin Hudson. First base coach Rene Lachemann attempted to intervene, but Tulowitzki was ejected by Hudson.

With two strikeouts in his two innings, Tulowitzki was 0-for-12 in the series.

Jonathan Herrera, who replaced Tulowitzki, drove in LeMahieu with a single in the seventh.

NOTES: Colorado optioned LHP Jeff Francis to Triple-A Colorado Springs to clear a roster spot for Bettis. Colorado Springs RHP Josh Sullivan was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster. ... The Braves had a 9-0 homestand in 2000. ... Atlanta's last four-game sweep of Colorado came in 2011, also at Turner Field. ... Braves C Gerald Laird was unavailable following a procedure on Wednesday to remove a kidney stone. ... Johnson has a 10-game hitting streak. ... Teheran also had 11 strikeouts on June 5 against Pittsburgh. ... The Braves open a series at Philadelphia tonight when RHP Kris Medlen will face Phillies rookie Ethan Martin. The Rockies will travel to Pittsburgh where RHP Jhoulys Chacin will face RHP Gerrit Cole.

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