Braves 4, Rockies 3

The coldest day ever at Coors Field was short-sleeve weather for

Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor.

Starting a day-night doubleheader that opened with the

temperature at 23 degrees, Justin Upton hit his major

league-leading 10th home run, Dan Uggla and rookie Evan Gattis also

connected in support of Minor’s solid outing and the Braves beat

the Colorado Rockies 4-3 Tuesday.

Reed Johnson, playing right field for Atlanta because Jason

Heyward underwent an appendectomy Monday night, went 4 for 4 with

three doubles. Heyward was put on the 15-day disabled list.

The matchup featured baseball’s hottest teams – Colorado and

Atlanta each began the day at 13-5, tied for the best record in the

major leagues – in the coldest gametime temperature in the majors

since it began collecting data in 1991, according to STATS. The

Rockies said the previous low at Coors Field was 28.

”I think that one is going to be short-lived,” Braves said

manager Fredi Gonzalez said between games. ”I think the next one

is going to break the record.”

Donning a short-sleeve jersey with his standard T-shirt

underneath while many of the other players were bundled up, Minor

(3-1) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He said he

decided against warmer attire because he wanted the same freedom of

movement he feels with his arms uncovered.

”I don’t know what it is, but with (long) sleeves on, I feel

restricted,” he said. ”It’s just a feeling and you want to feel

comfortable out there.”

To a degree, anyway.

”It was all right,” Minor said. ”The biggest thing was grip,

just being cold and dry. I pretty much just battled through

it.”

At one point, Minor admitted he got so cold that he had a

trainer rub his back, arms and thighs with a heating ointment.

”I was burning up there,” he said with a smile.

Upton said giving Minor an early lead helped.

”You always want to get ahead,” Upton said. ”Let Mike settle

in and know that he doesn’t have to be too perfect.”

Especially on a day like this.

By the time Craig Kimbrel, pitched a one-hit ninth for his

eighth save in eight chances, the temperature had warmed up to

27.

”You can’t feel your hands when you go up there. You have to

continue your focus and concentrate,” said the Rockies’ Carlos

Gonzalez.

Upton felt the same way.

”It’s more in your hands,” he said. ”You use your hands a lot

in the game and that’s the worst part – your hands get a little

cold. But if you can keep your hands warm and keep them feeling the

bat and the ball, you’ll be fine.”

Gattis hit a tiebreaking home run in the fourth and ended the

game by throwing out Wilin Rosario trying to steal second.

Jeff Francis (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits in four

innings, leaving him with an 8.44 ERA.

”The ball was slick,” Francis said. ”That’s why I didn’t

throw my curveball. But there’s no excuse”

Ground crews began working at around 6 a.m. to clear several

inches of snow from the playing surface at Coors Field, which

opened in 1995. While there was no sign of snow on the field when

the game started, some parts of the ballpark remained closed,

including the snow-filled Rockpile section in center. Workers hosed

off the snow on the stand of evergreen trees beyond the center

field wall. It was important that the trees be cleared of the snow

because they’re part of the green ”batters’ eye” background.

It’s been a wintry April for Denver, which has been hit by a

wave of snowy weather over the past nine days that forced

postponements of games three times. The delays led to two

doubleheaders within a week.

Upton hit a solo drive in the first, and Uggla’s two-run homer

in the second made it 3-0. Colorado closed in the second on

Rosario’s run-scoring groundout and Jordan Pacheco’s RBI single,

then tied the score in the third when Dexter Fowler tripled to the

right-field wall and Josh Rutledge singled.

Gattis homered leading off the fourth.

NOTES: The announced crowd was 19,124. … INF Tyler Pastornicky

was recalled from Triple A Gwinnett to fill Heyward’s roster spot.

… Gattis leads all major league rookies with six home runs. …

Rutledge stole his fifth base, adding to the Rockies league-leading

total of 17. … The Rockies were 0-3 at home against the Braves

last year and 1-6 overall.