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Jason Heyward, Brooks Conrad Lead Comeback as Atlanta Braves Split Series with 9-6 Victory Over Colorado Rockies

July 22nd, 2011 at 3:13 AM
By Jonathan McCullough

Tommy Hanson had his worst start of the season, giving up six runs in six innings.

He still managed to get the win.

Despite being down 4-0 after two innings, the Atlanta Braves fought back and defeated the Colorado Rockies 9-6 to split the four-game series. In an offensive slugfest that featured four lead changes and four home runs, the Braves were lucky to escape Coors Field with a win.

Carlos Gonzalez set the tone early by leading off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. The Rockies then capped off a 3-run second inning with a bizarre run-scoring play. Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin botched a suicide squeeze by completely missing the bunt attempt, but the ball deflected off of Brian McCann’s glove, scoring Dexter Fowler easily from third.

Jason Heyward led the comeback by crushing a two-run homer in the top of the third inning. Freddie Freeman then tied the game in the fifth inning with a monster home run to dead center. An RBI single by Nate McLouth later in the inning gave the Braves a short-lived 5-4 lead.

“Freddie’s been doing a good job, and Jason’s last couple of games here he’s started heating up a little bit,” Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s a nice bat to have. It’s good when he’s in the lineup swinging like he is.”

After Hanson gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Rockies a 6-5 lead, Brooks Conrad recorded his first hit of the season from the right side in dramatic fashion, hitting a solo homer to tie the game at 6. He was previously 0-for-8 batting right-handed.

“That’s Brooksy, man,” Heyward said. “That’s him. He’s clutch. He went up there and had some patient AB’s today. Got a pitch to hit and didn’t miss it.”

The Braves would go on to score three more runs in the inning, including an RBI triple by McLouth and an RBI double by Heyward.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his major league-leading 30th save. He is now ten saves away from tying the rookie record set by Neftali Feliz in 2010. Jonny Venters also pitched a scoreless eighth inning to lower his stellar ERA to 1.37.

Even though the Braves had offensive contributions from everyone in the lineup, Gonzalez couldn’t help but shower Conrad with praise.

“He’s a blue-collar guy,” Gonzalez said. “He’s going to give you everything he has. You can’t say enough about him. People don’t appreciate him as much as we do, because of the way he prepares himself every single day.”

The Braves will travel to Cincinnati for a three-game series against the Reds. Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 2.26 ERA) will face Bronson Arroyo (7-8, 5.57 ERA) in the opener Friday night at 7:10 EDT.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Brooks Conrad, Carlos Gonzalez, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Jhoulys Chacin, Jonny Venters, MLB, Nate McLouth, Tommy Hanson

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