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Helton earns 2,000th hit, but Rockies get crushed

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ATLANTA (AP)

Jair Jurrjens knew eventually the Atlanta Braves would score some runs in one of his starts. The only question was when. "It's like going to the ice cream store when you were a little kid," Jurrjens said with a grin. "You relax more and just throw strikes. Try to work on the pitch count, try to work deep in the game." Jurrjens pitched seven strong innings, and Casey Kotchman had three hits and three RBIs to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 8-1 on Tuesday night. Lowering his ERA 10 points to 1.96, Jurrjens (4-2) scattered three hits and allowed one run in seven innings. The right-hander struck out a season-high eight and walked three. "Just come out and throw strikes," said Jurrjens, whose previous eight starts resulted in an average of only 2.3 runs of support. "That's the thing that's been working for me, just being aggressive. Before I was trying to be perfect. Now I'm up there challenging the hitters, making sure I get ahead and make them get themselves out." In their previous three games, the Braves had scored just four runs, but the win improved them to 7-11 at Turner Field. They began the night with a .353 home winning percentage that was second-worst in the majors. Manager Bobby Cox, hoping to change Atlanta's poor fortunes at Turner Field, tweaked the batting order with Yunel Escobar leading off, Kotchman hitting second and dropping Kelly Johnson to the sixth spot. Atlanta's 13 hits were its most at Turner Field since the home opener, a 10-inning, 6-5 victory over Washington on April 10. One of the few highlights for Colorado, which has lost five of seven, was Todd Helton's 2,000 career hit. The Rockies' first baseman singled in third to become the 255th player to reach the milestone. "That's a lot of hits," Helton said. "I'm proud of every hit I've got." Johnson had three hits for the first time in 25 games, improving his average 18 points to .243. "I think that when you put up eight runs, whatever the lineup is after we haven't scored any runs," Johnson said, "I think we should stick with it." Escobar, Kotchman and Johnson combined to go 7 for 13 with three runs scored. "I'm just happy to have a costume on , so wherever you can be in the lineup, just try to contribute when you get the chance," Kotchman said. "I don't analyze anything like that. I just try to play." Jason Hammel (0-3) lost his third straight start for the Rockies, allowing six runs and 10 hits. "It's frustrating because we're losing," Hammel said. "We're giving up little hits. We're making pitches, and we're making plays. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way." After Brian McCann's RBI single in the first made it 1-0, Atlanta scored three unearned runs in the second to take a 4-0 lead. Johnson singled and moved to second when Jeff Francoeur reached on second baseman Clint Barmes' fielding error. On a fielder's choice grounder by Jordan Schafer, Francoeur was thrown out at second, but Johnson advanced to third and scored on Jurrjens' RBI infield single. Escobar's infield single loaded the bases for Kotchman, whose RBI single drove in Schafer. Chipper Jones' RBI walk made it 4-0. Troy Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly in the third cut the lead to 4-1, but Schafer responded with a two-run single to make it 6-1 in Atlanta's half of the inning. Schafer moved to third on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate on an assist from center fielder Dexter Fowler to end the third. Catcher Chris Iannetta held onto the ball despite Schafer's attempt to jar it loose in a collision.

Notes

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said LHP Franklin Morales, on the 15-day disabled list since April 21 with a shoulder sprain, will throw simulated innings on Wednesday. ... Braves RHP Jorge Campillo, on the DL with rotator cuff tendinitis, will pitch two or three innings in long relief at Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday.
Tagged: Rockies, Braves

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