ATLANTA (AP) — The Colorado Rockies are playing the role of spoilers as they face NL East contenders on the road. Brendan Rodgers likes the vibe.
“These are big games for us," Rodgers said. “We’re playing good ball right now after taking three of four from Philly. We’re just trying to ruin playoff hopes honestly, and it’s kind of fun winning these close games against really good teams."
Rodgers hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fifth inning, Trevor Story went deep in the second and the Colorado Rockies held on to beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Jon Gray pitched five innings as the Rockies, far back in the NL West standings, moved to 22-51 on the road coming off a four-game series win at Philadelphia.
NL East-leading Atlanta, going for its fourth straight division title, stayed 4 1/2 games ahead of the Phillies after they lost to the Chicago Cubs. The Braves had won five of seven.
Atlanta put two on in the ninth inning before Carlos Estévez got Jorge Soler to pop out for his eighth save in 13 chances.
Colorado led 4-2 when Raimel Tapia singled and Rodgers hit his 12th homer to left, chasing Braves starter Touki Toussaint. Jacob Webb, the next Atlanta pitcher, allowed a double to Charlie Blackmon and walked Story. After a double play advanced Blackmon to third, Webb got Ryan McMahon to ground out and prevent further damage.
Rodgers has hit his last seven homers on the road and 10 overall.
“I think someone needs to tell me the secret to hitting them at home because I clearly and obviously hit more on the road," he said. “I’m still trying to figure out how to hit them at home."
The Rockies tacked on a run to make it 5-2 in the sixth when Garrett Hampson tripled and Rio Ruiz had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Adam Duvall, the NL RBI leader with 101, hit his 35th homer, coming off Jhoulys Chacin in the eighth, to trim the lead to 5-4.
“I even had a good feeling after we gave up two runs in the top of the fifth with all the at-bats we had left,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’d have bet on our offense in that situation to make something happen. We got right there. We had the winning run at the plate."
The Braves tied it at 2-all in the fourth when Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson hit consecutive doubles. Swanson entered with a .109 average over his last 14 games.
Colorado, which improved to 9-2 at Truist Park since it opened in 2017, went up 2-1 in the second. Story hit his 22nd homer, a 430-foot shot to center that marked the 14th time he's connected in 32 career games against the Braves. McMahon walked, advanced to third on Elias Diaz’s single and scored on Hampson’s single.
Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Soler doubled and scored on Freddie Freeman’s single. After Austin Riley singled, Gray struck out Duvall and d’Arnaud to end the threat.
Gray (8-10) improved to 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA in seven career starts against Atlanta. The righty allowed two runs and five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He had gone 0-4 with a 6.33 ERA in his six previous starts overall.
Gray overcame getting hit in the index finger of his pitching hand on a bunt attempt in the second.
“It hurt like heck, but it didn’t swell up," Gray said. “Nothing bad. It just kind of got stiff as the night went on. Really lucky there. I need to do a better job of bunting so it doesn’t happen again."
Toussaint (3-3), who didn’t last past the third inning in his previous two starts, was charged with four runs and five hits with three walks and five strikeouts in four-plus innings.
Rockies: OF-1B Connor Joe (right hamstring strain) ran before the game, and manager Bud Black said he is close to 100%. Joe did some agility drills, played catch and took batting practice. ... RHP Peter Lambert (recovery from Tommy John surgery) threw a bullpen session and is still on target to return before the season ends.
Braves: RHP Chris Martin (shoulder inflammation) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. ... C Stephen Vogt (hip) saw a specialist on Monday but is unlikely to return this season. “I have my doubts that he’ll make him back this year," Snitker said.
Black said CF Sam Hilliard, whose father Jim passed away Sunday from ALS, was handling the loss as well as can be expected.
“There’s been some emotional moments with Sam, but he’s kept his chin up, his chest out,” Black said. “He’s represented his family. He’s represented the ALS cause. He’s hung in there admirably. I’m very proud of him.”
Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.11 ERA) will face Braves RHP Huascar Ynoa (4-5, 3.22) as the teams play the second game of a three-game series.