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Bettis leads Rox to shutout in inspiring return

August 14, 2017

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis wasn't defeated by testicular cancer, and he wouldn't let the Braves beat him Monday night. He threw seven scoreless innings in his first Major League outing since being diagnosed in November, and the Rockies came through when Charlie Blackmon tripled and scored in the

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis wasn't defeated by testicular cancer, and he wouldn't let the Braves beat him Monday night. He threw seven scoreless innings in his first Major League outing since being diagnosed in November, and the Rockies came through when Charlie Blackmon tripled and scored in the eighth inning for a 3-0 victory at Coors Field.
Bettis, who underwent surgery Nov. 29 but in March had to undergo chemotherapy treatments, gave up six hits, but struck out two and forced 12 ground-ball outs -- all while appreciating the moment, yet fighting to control his emotions. His most important outs may have been fly balls to center, by Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson with one out and a runner at third in the seventh.
"I don't think I was really in tune with what was going on until about the fifth," said Bettis, who didn't get the decision -- that went to reliever Mike Dunn (5-1) -- but helped the Rockies remain in a tie with the D-backs for the top National League Wild Card spot. "Just so many emotions, and I was trying to get them under control, but it was taking much longer than was expected. It was great."
The game was the first at Coors to go into the eighth inning scoreless since Sept. 14, 2008 -- a 1-0 Rockies victory over the Dodgers. But Blackmon opened the bottom of the frame with his Majors-leading 14th triple, off former teammate Rex Brothers. Blackmon scored when Swanson, at shortstop, let Gerardo Parra's bouncer scoot under his glove for what was originally ruled an error but changed to a single.

"It was really good to finally help contribute to the scoring of a run, because we were stinking it up before that," Blackmon said. "I felt like tonight was our night. [Bettis' situation] is something that a lot of people can associate with in some way or another, and so it's good to feel that kind of support for one of my teammates."
With the infield in, Swanson approached Parra's two-hopper, but it skipped off the edge of the grass and under his backhand attempt. After the game, the rookie shortstop talked to third-base coach Ron Washington, who doubles as the team's infield guru, about how he would approach the play.

"It obviously didn't go our way," Swanson said. "Sometimes that's baseball. Sometimes they hit it right at you and sometimes it takes an unexpected bounce. It was definitely a play I know I can make."
Carlos Gonzalez added a two-run single off another former Rockies reliever, Jason Motte.

Bettis' inspiring comeback and the Rockies' eighth spoiled a standout performance by Braves starter Julio Teheran, who fanned eight and held the Rockies to four hits in seven scoreless innings. Teheran entered with a 5.64 ERA in his past 12 starts. But he seems to find comfort at Coors Field, where he has allowed no more than one run in three of his four career starts.
"There was a point where I just pretty much decided where they're going to score on him before I took him out," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He earned the right to get that decision in that game. He was really good. It's a shame we couldn't score five or six runs for him and get him a win."

Helping out their man: Rockies fielders joyously helped Bettis on the diamond -- especially in the beginning. Ender Inciarte's first-inning leadoff drive to left field past a diving Parra bounced to the wall. Parra fired to shortstop Trevor Story, who relayed home, where catcher Jonathan Lucroy made the tag. According to Statcast™, Inciarte sped the bases in 15.13 seconds -- the second-fastest round trip this season. The Royals' Lorenzo Cain made an error-aided trip around the bases -- but successfully -- in 15.07 seconds against the Rays on May 8.
"We were talking about that on the bench, whether we'd seen that before in all our years in baseball -- whether we'd seen a potential inside-the-park home run on the first play of the game," Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Parra added, "Every day in baseball, something new happens …If Buddy Black had never seen that, I've never seen it, too."

Stopping the magic bullet: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Majors' RBI leader with 100, was hit on the left hand Sunday at Miami and was expected to miss at least a couple of days. But with Bettis coming out of the game, and two on and one out in the seventh, Rockies manager Bud Black reached for magic and let Arenado pinch-hit. Teheran, however, induced a foul popup and then fanned Alexi Amarista.
"Teheran showed me something all night," Snitker said. "He was just hitting his spots and not giving in. That was a huge at-bat right there. For what he did right there to get him was pretty good."

"It took two perfect throws to get me out. They made it." -- Inciarte, on getting thrown out at the plate as he attempted to complete an inside-the-park home run
"Talking to [Rockies pitching coach] Steve Foster, watching this game, he said this is classic Chad. This is what he does. This is how he does it." -- Black, on Bettis

• The Braves have been outscored 71-28 to lose each of their last 11 games at Coors Field, dating back to June 11, 2014.
• Gonzalez, maligned because of a difficult offensive season, has quietly gone 26-for-81 (.320) with 17 RBIs and eight extra-base hits in his past 21 games.

Braves:Sean Newcomb will be introduced to Coors Field when this four-game series resumes Tuesday at 8:40 p.m. ET. Newcomb struggled with his control throughout July, but the big rookie southpaw issued just one walk over six innings against the Phillies his last time out.
Rockies:Kyle Freeland (11-7, 3.70 ERA) takes the mound at 6:40 p.m. MT as the rookie left-hander returns from a groin strain suffered Aug. 4. Freeland exited in the first inning of his last start but needed just the minimum 10 days on the disabled list. He'll face the Braves for the first time in his career. Preview >>
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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.