ATLANTA -- Having won the first two games of the series, the Rockies entered the finale at Turner Field looking for their first series sweep of at least three games against the Braves in Atlanta since September 1997. But in a scoreless tie after eight innings, Atlanta spoiled the opportunity
ATLANTA -- Having won the first two games of the series, the Rockies entered the finale at Turner Field looking for their first series sweep of at least three games against the Braves in Atlanta since September 1997. But in a scoreless tie after eight innings, Atlanta spoiled the opportunity on Chase d'Arnaud's walk-off single to hand Colorado a 1-0 loss.
"It felt amazing. Any time you have the chance to do that, that's exactly what you want to do," d'Arnaud said about his crucial hit. "Everybody wants to contribute, especially in times like that when everybody is pulling for you. I just tried not to do too much and took the bat right to the ball."
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Atlanta recorded five hits in the first four innings, but Jon Gray didn't allow a runner to second, stranding seven on the basepaths. Meanwhile, the Rockies couldn't find an answer for Julio Teheran, who exited the scoreless tie after scattering three hits. The Braves entered Sunday's game averaging only 2.6 runs per game for Teheran this year, which was the worst run support for any qualified pitcher in the Majors.
Both teams turned to their bullpens in the eighth, and neither allowed the other to break through. That was until, with runners on second and third in the ninth, d'Arnaud poked a two-out single into left off Gonzalez Germen for his second walk-off hit of the year. The Rockies fell to 6-12 in one-run games.
"We had a couple opportunities, especially late, but they got two big double plays," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, whose team was looking for its first sweep at Atlanta since 1997 -- the first season at Turner Field, which the Braves will vacate at the end of this season. "It's a tough game.
"You're going against Teheran, who threw the ball. It was a good pitchers' duel, for sure. Gray pitched like a horse today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Boldly going where he hadn't gone before: Gray's career high was 105 pitches -- in his first career win on May 13 against the Mets. But on Sunday, he was finishing the seventh, no matter how many pitches he needed. With two down and Anthony Recker at first courtesy of a hit batsman, Gray avoided left-handed-hitting Jace Peterson with a five-pitch walk and challenged d'Arnaud, who had managed two singles. Gray went all secondary pitches -- curve, changeup and, finally, a 1-2 slider on his 115th pitch for his eighth strikeout.
"I took ownership of that inning," Gray said. More >
Teheran's troubles at the Ted: After giving up 10 runs across his final two starts before the All-Star break, Teheran retired seven batters in a row to start Sunday's game and didn't allow a single runner to advance past first base until the sixth inning. The Braves' ace ran into trouble in the seventh, when he put runners on first and second with a two-out double and a walk. But Teheran settled in and induced an inning-ending groundout. Despite his seven shutout innings, the right-hander was once again denied his first win of the season at Turner Field, where he has posted a 2.90 ERA in 11 home starts.
"He just keeps pitching," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think he takes it an inning at a time and tries to win that inning is what it looks like to me, and he does a great job of keeping us in the games and just pitching. He never quits pitching."
Just a bit outside: Germen thought he had a strikeout to end the ninth on a full-count changeup to Peterson with two out and a runner at third. Despite the framing job by catcher Tony Wolters, home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson called ball four. d'Arnaud then delivered the winning single.
It takes two: With the Rockies threatening to score in the eighth with one out and runners on first and second, Freddie Freeman fielded a sharp ground ball off the bat of DJ LeMahieu to initiate an inning-ending double play. The first baseman fired to second, where d'Arnaud touched the bag and tossed the ball to Chris Withrow at first just in time to get the final out. An inning later, Colorado once again put runners on first and second with one out. But Jim Johnson induced a 5-4-3 double play from pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds to escape any damage.
"That one they turned with Withrow wasn't easy," Snitker said. "That was a good job by Withrow getting over there. Freddie took his time and made a great throw. That was large."
"We need to win series. We did that here. Anytime you're in position to sweep, that's what you want to do. We'll continue to win series, though." -- Weiss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Freeman entered this weekend's series batting .298 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 32 career games vs. Colorado. But after entering the All-Star break hitting .345 in his past 15 games, the first baseman went 0-for-11 against the Rockies, capped by a four-strikeout game on Sunday.
The Rockies issued an unsuccessful challenge in the bottom of the seventh inning after a pitch hit Recker. The call stood after an estimated 33-second review showed the pitch hit Recker's hand and not the knob of his bat.
Rockies: After defeating the Braves in the weekend series, the Rockies hope to build upon that in a three-game series against the Rays at Coors Field. Rookie lefty Tyler Anderson (1-3, 3.30 ERA), who has a 2.63 ERA at home, will start for the Rockies. Game time is 6:40 p.m. MT.
Braves: Atlanta will kick off a nine-game road trip on Monday night, when it opens a three-game series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Matt Wisler will toe the rubber for the Braves, looking to end his woes away from Turner Field after posting a 14.00 ERA across his past two road starts. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta and covered the Braves on Sunday.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.