DENVER -- As Sean Newcomb neared the end of last week's forgettable season debut, he found a feel for the changeup that proved to be a weapon as he produced one of the most efficient outings in Coors Field history during the Braves' 4-0 win over the Rockies on Sunday
DENVER -- As Sean Newcomb neared the end of last week's forgettable season debut, he found a feel for the changeup that proved to be a weapon as he produced one of the most efficient outings in Coors Field history during the Braves' 4-0 win over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon.
"That's what we all have looked for," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He had a really good spring. He showed signs of it last year. You just keep thinking with him there's still more in there as he gets his confidence. He had it going today."
While helping the Braves open a season with three straight series wins for the first time since 2013, Newcomb registered nine strikeouts over six walkless and scoreless innings. The 24-year-old southpaw became just the third pitcher in Coors Field history to notch this many strikeouts and not issue a walk while completing at least six scoreless innings.
This was also the first of Newcomb's 21 career starts that did not include a walk. He had issued at least four walks seven times, including the start completed last week when he allowed the Nationals six runs -- five earned -- in just 4 1/3 innings.
"It was a good rebound from the first [start]," Newcomb said. "I just kind of cleaned everything up. I was a little more in control, and just maintained that all the way through."
Newcomb erased DJ LeMahieu's leadoff bunt single with a double play and then surrendered consecutive singles. But instead of faltering like he had done so frequently while constructing a 4.57 ERA in his previous 20 starts, the young southpaw proceeded to retire the next 16 batters he faced. The Rockies didn't produce another baserunner until Nolan Arenado began the bottom of the seventh with his second single of the day.
"I was just sitting in my windup the whole time, kind of grooving and just making my pitches," Newcomb said. "Even when I was missing, I was able to bounce back and make good pitches after that."
Newcomb set the tone for the afternoon by consistently commanding his four-seam fastball, which generated nine swinging strikes and 10 called strikes. Instead of primarily leaning on his curveball, he proved he has an effective third pitch as he utilized his changeup a career-high 21 percent of the time.
"We used that a lot, probably more than the curveball," Newcomb said. "I was able to get some good hitters out with it, so it was good."
Just having the ability to consistently lean on a third pitch proved valuable for Newcomb, who gained his first lead when Ozzie Albies touched Rockies starter Kyle Freeland for a ground-rule double. Albies added a homer in the seventh inning to add to the lead that was lengthened by the back-to-back homers Nick Markakis and Dansby Swanson hit in the sixth.
"We're grinding," Markakis said. "We're playing baseball and we're playing well together. Our pitching has been outstanding. When you get good pitching, defense and timely hitting, good things happen."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Speed-power combo: One of the loudest pregame ovations was heard when the Rockies recognized one of their legends, Eric Young Sr., who has aided the baserunning attack since becoming Atlanta's first-base coach this year. Ender Inciarte's successful steal of second base with two outs in the fifth allowed him to score when Albies' double bounced over the center field wall.
Welcome back:Shane Carle made just three appearances for Colorado last year and then was traded to the Pirates, who kept him for two months before sending him to the Braves in November. After Arenado and Trevor Story opened the bottom of the seventh with singles, Carle induced a double play off Ian Desmond's bat and escaped unscathed with Gerardo Parra's lineout.
"[Carle] has been in some high leverage situations all year," Snitker said. "He attacks the zone and has the changeup. His breaking ball, I've seen it better than we did during Spring Training."
"I just love the fact we had a starter get us into the seventh inning. That was huge with where we were in our bullpen with a couple guys down. It's got to be really big for his confidence. -- Snitker, who hadn't seen one of his starters complete six innings until Brandon McCarthy did so in Friday's series-opening win
"His fastball is kind of heavy, he was locating pretty good, his changeup, he was keeping it down. We just couldn't get much going off him." -- LeMahieu, on Newcomb
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the Braves' first shutout win at Coors Field since April 18, 1997 -- a span of 79 games. The starting pitcher in that game 21 years ago was Tom Glavine, who like Newcomb, is a left-hander from Massachusetts.
CULBERSON VISITS FRONT ROW
Former Rockie Charlie Culberson reunited with some of his former fans in the eighth inning when he dove over the tarp down the left-field line and grabbed Carlos Gonzalez's foul ball before falling into the stands, while maintaining control of the baseball. More >
Julio Teheran will look to rebound when the Braves open a three-game series at Nationals Park on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Teheran allowed the Nationals five runs over just 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday, including two homers -- one to Bryce Harper, who is 5-for-8 with three home runs against the Atlanta right-hander since the start of last season.
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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.