Baseball / Sports

Floyd ends win drought, delivers victory vs. Rockies

DENVER -- More than 20 months. That's how long it had been since Gavin Floyd got a 'W' next to his name in a major-league game.

After 11 starts, six losses, one complicated elbow surgery and a long rehabilitation, Floyd ended his drought Monday night -- and did it at one of the toughest places to pitch.

The veteran right-hander allowed just three hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 victory against the Rockies to open a four-game series at Coors Field. Floyd (1-2) had three walks and four strikeouts.

Chris Johnson had three hits including two RBI singles for the Braves, who took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and avoided the kind of meltdowns they had while blowing similar leads in consecutive weekend losses at Arizona.

Impressive rookie Shae Simmons pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning -- striking out Troy Tulowitzki for the third out -- and Craig Kimbrel gave up a two-out walk in the ninth before striking out Wilin Rosario to collect his 17th save in 20 opportunities.

Floyd was 0-6 in 11 starts since his last win for the Chicago White Sox at Cleveland on Oct. 3, 2012, his final start that season. He made five starts for the White Sox in 2013 before season-ending surgery to repair both a torn ulnar collateral ligament (Tommy John surgery) and a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow.

He was 0-2 despite a solid 2.80 ERA in six starts for the Braves before Monday, when Floyd limited the opposition to one earned run for the fourth time this season. But this time, the Braves gave him some run support and solid defense, areas that had been lacking in several of his previous starts.

Floyd surrendered a leadoff homer to Corey Dickerson in the seventh inning to trim the Braves' lead to 2-1, and was replaced after issuing a two-out walk to DJ LeMahieu. Pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes bounced a double up the middle against reliever Luis Avilan to put runners at second and third, but Avilan retired Charlie Blackmon on a comebacker to end the inning.

The Braves added an insurance run in the eighth after Justin Upton led off with a walk and Evan Gattis singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Johnson followed with an RBI single that pushed the lead to 3-1, his third consecutive hit in a span of five innings.

Johnson was just 16-for-83 (.193) with 24 strikeouts in his past 21 games before Monday, but against the Rockies he had a .352 career average in 24 games entering the series. He's now 14-for-32 (.437) in nine games at Coors Field.

Rockies pitcher Christian Bergman, in his major-league debut, got his first hit -- a third-inning infield single -- before giving up his first hit, a fourth-inning leadoff single by B.J. Upton. The Braves got the first two runs of the game in that inning from Upton and Freddie Freeman, who drew a walk after him.

The Braves had a chance to break the game open after loading the bases in the sixth on singles by Justin Upton and Chris Johnson and a two-out walk by rookie Tommy La Stella. But Andrelton Simmons flied out deep to right-center on the second pitch, dropping the Braves to 5-for-38 (.132) with bases loaded, tied with the Dodgers for worst in the majors.

Jason Heyward led off the game with sharp grounder up the middle that was ruled an error on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a questionable scoring decision. Heyward would be the Braves' only base runner through three innings, as Bergman retired the next nine in a row including four strikeouts.

The Braves broke through in the fourth after B.J. Upton's infield single to start the inning. Upton stole second before Freeman walked. And after advancing to third on brother Justin Upton's fly out to right, B.J. went on contact and scored without a play at the plate on Evan Gattis' groundout to third.

Johnson followed with a sharp single to second field to drive in another run for a 2-0 lead.

Bergman (0-1) was charged with five hits and two runs in six innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.

(c)2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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