DENVER — Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs and starting pitcher Derek Lowe handcuffed the Colorado Rockies over 6 1/3 innings in the Atlanta Braves’ 7-4 win Monday night.
Lowe must have felt right at home in the unusually warm night in Colorado, and the sunshine actually helped him beat the Rockies for the second time in two weeks.
Lowe’s ground ball to third base in the second inning resulted in a two-run error on first baseman Todd Helton, who lost the throw in the setting sun, igniting the Braves’ fifth win in five tries over the Rockies this month.
Lowe (6-7) gave up four runs and eight hits on a 92-degree night, finally fading in the seventh when he left with a 7-2 lead and watched his bullpen allow two more runs.
Rookie Craig Kimbrel recorded his 16th straight scoreless appearance, striking out the side in the ninth for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Jason Hammel (5-9) appeared to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam when he induced a routine ground ball from Lowe with two outs in the second inning, but Ty Wigginton’s throw was higher than Helton wanted and he lost it in the sun, allowing Freeman and Dan Uggla to score.
Because the throw was on line, Helton was charged with the error, the second costly miscue by the usually sure-handed first baseman in three days. He booted another ball in the ninth and was charged with an error before the official scorer changed it to an infield hit for Freeman, his third of the night. He also had a fielder’s choice ground ball that scored Lowe, who led off with a single, to make it 7-1.
One night after his first career game-winning hit, a single that lifted Atlanta past Washington 9-8, Freeman delivered again for the Braves, driving a fastball in the third inning into the rock pile in center for a two-run homer, the rookie’s 14th.
One out later, Eric Hinske sent another first-pitch fastball into the right-field seats for his ninth homer and a 5-0 lead.
Hammel allowed six runs, four earned, and eight hits in five innings.
The Rockies were limited to Helton’s RBI single until the seventh, when Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki hit run-scoring bloop singles and Helton added a sacrifice fly.
The Braves swept a four-game series from the Rockies just before the All-Star break, sending Colorado into a nosedive that has spawned speculation that ace Ubaldo Jimenez could be traded just a year after starting the All-Star game for the National League.
Jimenez, who is signed for the next three years at just under $18 million and says he wants to stay in Colorado, has rebounded from a slow start caused in part by nagging thumb and hip injuries. He takes the mound for the Rockies tonight.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward was scratched from the lineup because of a bruised left foot. Heyward, who was hit by a pitch Sunday against Washington, was replaced by Nate McLouth. Third baseman Chipper Jones, on the 15-day disabled list following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee July 9, has joined the Gwinnett Braves to begin a rehab assignment later this week.
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