May 24, 2024

Vines’ strong outing in big league debut leads Braves past Rockies 7-3

Colorado Rockies' Elias Diaz watches his solo home run off Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By DENNIS GEORGATOS Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Darius Vines pitched six strong innings to win in his major league debut and Marcell Ozuna homered for the second time in as many games as the Atlanta Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3 on Wednesday night to complete a season sweep.
Kevin Pillar and Orlando Arcia also homered for the Braves, who finished 7-0 against the Rockies for their third season sweep of Colorado. Atlanta outscored Colorado 64-20 over the season sweep.
The Braves went 6-0 against Colorado in 2003 and 13-0 in 1993, the first year of the Rockies’ existence. Atlanta has won its last eight game at Coors Field against the Rockies, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games. The Braves are a major league-best 87-45, and have won 17 of their last 22.
Alan Trejo homered for Colorado off reliever Michael Tonkin in the bottom of the seventh. Nolan Jones doubled twice, the first dropping in right-center in the bottom of the fourth when Ronald Acuña Jr. appeared to lose the ball in the lights. An inning later with a Rockies’ baserunner at second, Acuña made a sensational sliding catch on a fly ball by Ezequiel Tovar, saving a run and ending the inning.
Vines (1-0), called up earlier this week from Triple-A Gwinnett, retired the first seven batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk in the third to Trejo. He fanned Brenton Doyle before hitting Charlie Blackmon with a pitch and giving up his first hit, an RBI single by Tovar.
“I thought he pitched with a lot of confidence, handled himself really well,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He gave me the impression he was ready for this, and good for him. It’s a big day in his life, to get that first win. I know the guys are happy for him, I am, and that’s awesome.”
Vines allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked one in an outing that bolstered the back end of Atlanta’s rotation.
“I felt like it went pretty good, just giving my team a chance to win,” Vines said. “I mean, this lineup is ridiculous. Just giving me all that run support and giving me all the confidence in the world, trying to throw up zeros.”
The Braves struck for two runs in the top of the fourth, taking a 3-1 lead with the help of a throwing error by shortstop Tovar. He threw wide of second base trying to get a force-out, allowing Austin Riley to come around from second to score. Travis d’Arnaud pushed across the other run with an RBI groundout.
They broke the game open with a four-run sixth featuring Ozuna’s solo shot and Arcia’s two-run drive, both off Kyle Freeland (5-14), who also surrendered Pillar’s homer leading off the third.
“Through the first five innings, I was pitching really well,” Freeland said. “Overall, I made three mistakes and looking back on video they’re pretty solidly executed pitches. But it’s the Braves. They’re going to hit. They’re going to put up runs frequently. They’re going to be on base frequently.
“That’s probably the best lineup that I’ve ever faced in my career, from top to bottom. There’s zero breaks in that lineup,”
With the three home runs, Atlanta increased its season total to 250, surpassing the previous team record of 249 in 2019. “You know everybody’s so good at their approach and staying within themselves, and fortunately we’re rewarded with home runs,” catcher d’Arnaud said. “It’s fun to be a part of.”
Rockies: RHP Chase Anderson worked three scoreless innings in a rehab outing at Triple A Albuquerque on Tuesday night. He went on the 15-day injured list because of right shoulder inflammation in late July. … 2B Brendan Rodgers missed a third consecutive game due to illness.
Braves: Play the first of four games on Thursday at the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series featuring the division leaders in the NL East and NL West. Braves RHP Spencer Strider (15-4, 3.46 ERA) is slated to start the series opener against RHP Lance Lynn (10-9, 5.56).
Rockies: Following an off day on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays come to town for a three-game series with Colorado right-hander Chris Flexen (1-6, 6.94) scheduled to start the series opener against Toronto LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.25).