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Folty's gem spoiled as 'pen falters in 9th, 10th

Against Minter, Rockies score 3 runs with 2 outs to tie game
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Two days after his unavailability was highlighted as Brad Brach was unable to preserve a one-run, ninth-inning lead, A.J. Minter couldn't record the one out the Braves needed to avoid a third consecutive disheartening loss.

Mike Foltynewicz performed like the frontline starter every postseason contender needs, and the Braves were positioned to strengthen their National League East lead until a seemingly easy ninth inning turned into a disastrous one for Minter in Saturday night's 5-3, 10-inning loss to the Rockies at SunTrust Park.

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ATLANTA -- Two days after his unavailability was highlighted as Brad Brach was unable to preserve a one-run, ninth-inning lead, A.J. Minter couldn't record the one out the Braves needed to avoid a third consecutive disheartening loss.

Mike Foltynewicz performed like the frontline starter every postseason contender needs, and the Braves were positioned to strengthen their National League East lead until a seemingly easy ninth inning turned into a disastrous one for Minter in Saturday night's 5-3, 10-inning loss to the Rockies at SunTrust Park.

View Full Game Coverage

DJ LeMahieu delivered the crushing blow with his solo homer off Luke Jackson, who allowed a pair of runs in the 10th. But the postgame focus centered around Minter, who had to explain the fact that him allowing four consecutive hits and three runs with two outs had nothing to do with a small cut that developed on his thumb at the start of the ninth.

Video: COL@ATL: Foltynewicz K's 9 over 7 shutout innings

"It was just pretty pathetic on my part," Minter said. "I came in to get three outs in a three-run game and couldn't get the job done. I'm going to have to wear that one."

As the Braves have lost three straight to the Rockies, who have bolstered their postseason bid by winning seven of their past eight, they have tasted heartache. Brach squandered the ninth-inning lead when three top relievers were unavailable for Thursday's series opener. Sean Newcomb struggled in Friday's lopsided loss. But even greater frustration was felt Saturday, when Colorado erased a three-run deficit with two outs and none on in the ninth.

"When we had this [rough] stretch before [in July], nobody was running away with it," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose team remains a half-game in front of the second-place Phillies. "We're still right there. This is a really good club we're playing. They're strong. They just keep coming at you."

Video: COL@ATL: Markakis plates 2 with a base hit in the 3rd

After Minter retired Carlos Gonzalez to open the ninth, he received a visit from Snitker and trainer George Poulis. The 24-year-old southpaw showed them he was simply dealing with a small cut that developed on his left thumb two pitches into this appearance. 

"It had nothing to do with the outcome of the game," said Minter, who entered having allowed just seven hits and one run over 12 innings dating back to July 14.

The cut was nearly invisible by the time Minter spoke to the media. But the lingering effects of the inning were clearly visible.

Video: COL@ATL: Snitker on loss to Rockies, Foltynewicz

"When you've got to throw it down the middle, they're going to make you pay for it," Minter said. "That's Major League Baseball. I tried to stay within myself and tried to throw strikes. It was pretty pathetic, especially when Folty pitched the game he did and the hitters did their job."

But location was not necessarily the issue for Minter, who allowed Trevor Story to fuel the ninth inning with a double recorded against a cutter on the inside corner. David Dahl followed by singling against an elevated fastball. Ian Desmond hit a low fastball on the inside corner to left for a two-run double and Gerardo Parra followed with a game-tying single recorded against a cutter on the outside corner.

Video: COL@ATL: Parra ties the game in the 9th with RBI hit

As Minter progresses through his first full Major League season, he has been described as a left-handed Craig Kimbrel and also occasionally provided the reminder he is still in the early stages of his development. This was just his second blown save in 13 opportunities, but he has now allowed at least three runs in less than an inning in three appearances.

"He gets amped up," Snitker said. "He's not a veteran closer. This is all new to him. The reps he's getting, he's not an established guy yet. He's still trying to figure things out and how to do it."

Video: COL@ATL: Camargo makes a superb barehanded play

AUGUST SURGE
Foltynewicz has allowed more than two earned runs in just five of 24 starts, but four of those outings were accounted for during a rough stretch around the All-Star break. As he has posted a 1.35 ERA through four starts this month, he has seemingly righted himself in time for the stretch run.

Foltynewicz recorded nine strikeouts and limited the Rockies' potent lineup to four hits over seven scoreless innings. When he allowed one run over eight innings against the Marlins on Monday, it marked the first time he'd completed at least seven innings since tossing a two-hit shutout against the Nationals on June 1.

"When I went through that rough stretch, I was really rushing with my delivery and leaving pitches up in the zone, especially my slider," Foltynewicz said. "It's been really good this year. So, when I stay back and stay over the rubber, I can get that downhill angle, especially with the fastball. It just opens up all the offspeed from there."

Video: COL@ATL: Foltynewicz makes throw from ground

SOUND SMART
Ronald Acuna Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 games when he began his seventh three-hit performance since the All-Star Game with a first-inning single. The 20-year-old outfielder walked ahead of Nick Markakis' two-run, bases-loaded single in the third inning. He also singled, stole second base and scored on Freddie Freeman's eighth-inning single.

Acuna has reached safely from the leadoff spot in the first inning of each of the past nine games. This is the longest such streak in the Majors since Rafael Furcal reached safely while leading off nine straight games for the Dodgers in 2009.

Video: COL@ATL: Acuna Jr. gets on to lead off in 9 straight

UP NEXT
Anibal Sanchez will take the mound when the Braves and Rockies conclude their four-game series Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. Sanchez limited Colorado to two runs over five innings on April 7. Colorado will counter with German Marquez, who has a 2.91 ERA over his past eight starts.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Mike Foltynewicz, A.J. Minter