Baseball sanity returned to Coors Field on Friday night.
The Rockies still lost, despite another excellent start by right-hander Chad Kuhl.
The Braves beat them, 3-1, in 10 innings, after getting an ace-like start from left-hander Max Fried.
In the 10th, Adam Duvall scored on Carlos Estevez’s second wild pitch of the inning, and Matt Olson’s two-run, bases-loaded single to left off Lucas Gilbreath scored two more.
The Rockies went relatively quietly in the bottom of the frame against former Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Yonathan Daza singled home “ghost runner” C.J. Cron from second, but Jansen shut the door by getting Jose Iglesias to ground into a fielder’s choice and striking out Ryan McMahon.
Colorado, which seems to be inventing unique ways to lose, has dropped seven of its last 10 games and 18 of its last 25. It’s only June 3 but the last-place Rockies already trail the Dodgers by 12 games in the National League West.
After 67 runs were scored in the first four games of the Rockies’ homestand (40 by the visiting team), and 99 hits were tallied, the Braves and Rockies scored just four runs on 11 combined hits.
Friday night marked just the second time in Coors Field history that both teams were scoreless through nine innings. The only other time that happened was on Sept. 14, 2008, when the Rockies ended up beating the Dodgers, 1-0, in 10 innings.
Troy Tulowitzki won the game for the Rockies, driving home Matt Holliday with a bases-loaded single. Hall of Famer Greg Maddux started for the Dodgers in that game, while Aaron Cook started for Colorado.
Friday night, Kuhl was the stopper Colorado so desperately needed. He blanked the Braves for six innings, allowing just five hits, walking two and striking out three.
Kuhl has allowed three earned runs across his last three starts for a 1.62 ERA and lowered his ERA to 3.17, the eighth-lowest through a Rockies starter’s first 10 starts of a season in franchise history. It’s the lowest since Tyler Chatwood’s 2.69 ERA through his first 10 starts of 2016.
“I hope this (gives us) momentum,” manager Bud Black said. “It’s just one start, but Chad threw well against Washington and he threw well at Pittsburgh, and again tonight.
“But overall (the pitching) has been too rocky. We have to string starts together. You’d like to win this game, but there is a team on the other side that pitched well, too.”
Entering Friday’s game, the Rockies’ rotation had posted an ERA of 8.68 over its last five games.
Right-handers Alex Colome, Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard backed up Kuhl, each tossing a scoreless inning in relief.
Kuhl was stressed in the first inning when Ronald Acuna Jr. led off with a single and Dansby Swanson followed with another. But Acuna was thrown out trying to steal home when Swanson broke for second and drew a throw from catcher Elias Diaz. Second baseman Brendan Rodgers, who’s had his struggles on defense lately, alertly saw Acuna break for home and threw him out with a strike to the plate.
Kuhl issued back-to-back two-out walks to Austin Riley and Matt Olson, loading the bases. But Kuhl got Travis d’Arnaud to fly out to Connor Joe in left to end the threat. From that point on, Kuhl’s outing was pretty much stress-free.
“My fastball was key and I threw a ton of fastball in the zone,” he said. “It definitely got better after that first inning, that’s for sure.”
Kuhl was aware that he need to give the Rockies a solid performance.
“You are always aware of what’s going on with your ballclub,” he said.
Fried pitched brilliantly for Atlanta. The lefty tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, walking only one, and striking out four. He induced 14 groundball outs and of his 102 pitches, 72 were strikes.
“He wasn’t missing his spots tonight,” Daza said. “He was throwing the ball where he wanted to. The fastball was coming in tight to righties. He wasn’t giving us much to hit.”
Colorado had a chance to nick Fried in the sixth when Randal Grichuk scorched a leadoff double to left. But he was stranded at second when Diaz — who’s hitting .198 and .105 with runners in scoring position — grounded out to Swanson at short.
Joe couldn’t deliver the clutch hit either, also grounding out to Swanson. The Rockies’ whisper of a rally died when Charlie Blackmon popped out to — you guessed it — Swanson.
Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers went 0-for-4 and saw his 20-game hitting streak come to an end.
The Braves have won three consecutive games for the first time this season. The two teams play the third game of their four-game series Saturday night at Coors.