DENVER (AP)Ozzie Albies homered on the first pitch of Ryan Feltner’s major league debut, and the Atlanta Braves added three more home runs in a 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Austin Riley, Adam Duvall and Travis d’Arnaud also went deep for the Braves. Charlie Morton (13-5) pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs on two hits in helping the NL East-leading Braves maintain a two-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. The lopsided win was a welcome development for the Braves, who came in having played five consecutive one-run decisions and had lost four of them.
”We needed a win today and we needed an offensive game, which we got,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”Charlie was just really, really good. That was a big win for us.” Raimel Tapia had the only two hits by the Rockies in the game. The Rockies scored their runs on an RBI grounder by Brendan Rodgers and a sacrifice fly by Ryan McMahon.
Morton walked two and struck out three.
”He understands what a game plan is and also understands when he has to wing it if he doesn’t have a certain pitch and he’s able to execute in that situation as well,” said d’Arnaud, who caught Morton. ”I don’t think any moment is too big for him. Whenever we need him, he always shows up.”
Feltner (0-1), who made the jump from Double-A Hartford to start in place of injured Austin Gomber, could not get out of the third inning. He allowed five hits – three of them homers – and six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The Braves scored five runs in the third off Feltner and three in the seventh off reliever Julian Fernandez. Albies began the barrage with his third homer in three games. ”My main focus for today was just pound the zone, be aggressive in the zone,” Feltner said. ”I did that for the most part and obviously the first pitch, I was just trying to get a strike over and he connected with it.” Said Rockies manager Bud Black: ”Obviously, he’d like to have a couple of pitches back but I thought he showed a lot of poise, composure.”
Morton singled to start the third, Jorge Soler singled and Freddie Freeman walked to load the bases. Riley hit a sacrifice fly and Duvall connected on a 2-2 offering from Feltner for his 31st homer of the season. D’Arnaud, who had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth Saturday night, followed with a drive that cleared the center-field fence and chased Feltner. The Braves led 6-0.
Freeman hit an RBI single in the seventh ahead of Riley’s two-run homer.
Feltner’s first-pitch homer to Albies was the first time a starter had given up a home run on the first pitch of his major league debut since Miami’s Robert Dugger allowed a leadoff homer to the New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil on Aug. 5, 2019.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (right forearm tightness) came out of a three-inning simulated game Saturday feeling good and is nearing a return from the injured list. . OF Yonathan Daza, on the IL with a lacerated thumb from a household accident, has been sent to Triple-A Albuquerque to begin a rehab assignment.
Braves: The team has an off day before hosting the Washington Nationals for a three-game set. Atlanta has yet to name a starter for Tuesday night’s series opener.
Rockies: Open a three-game series on Monday against the San Francisco Giants with LHP Kyle Freeland (5-6, 4.22 ERA) slated to pitch the opener. Freeland left his last start after one inning because of a left hip impingement but received an anti-inflammatory injection and was able to remain on schedule for his turn in the rotation.
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