DENVER (AP) - The Atlanta Braves scored early and often and they needed nearly every one of those runs to beat the Colorado Rockies.
Andrelton Simmons hit his first career grand slam as part of a seven-run first inning, and the Braves held on to beat Colorado 13-10 on Tuesday night.
Evan Gattis had a home run among his three hits and Freddie Freeman also homered for the Braves, who had season-highs of 16 hits and 13 runs but had to sweat out a win in the late innings.
“Nothing surprises me in this ballpark,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I’ve been in this office in the same situation with a loss hanging over your head.”
The teams combined for 29 hits and neither starter made it out of the fifth inning. Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio lasted just 3 2-3 innings and Atlanta’s Mike Minor left after giving up two hits to start the fifth.
David Hale (2-0) pitched 2 1-3 innings of relief for the win.
“I wasn’t making quality pitches early on and later on I felt like I was making better pitches and couldn’t get out of a jam,” Minor said. “They were scoring all night.”
The Rockies trailed 13-9 when reliever Jordan Walden walked the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth. One out later Shae Simmons came on and allowed a sacrifice fly by Justin Morneau but then struck out Josh Rutledge to end the threat.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.
“Kimbrel was great,” Gonzalez said. “We score seven in the first inning and we needed a shutdown inning.”
Nicasio had a scary moment when he deflected a line drive by Justin Upton with his glove in the bottom of the first.
Nicasio fractured his neck and sustained a concussion when he was hit in the head by a line drive on Aug. 5, 2011. He missed the rest of his rookie season.
“That was scary. You definitely look at his past history and know what happened,” shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “It’s something you don’t want to see. But Juan is a tough kid. I think he’s really over that.”
The Braves also had a scare when Upton gingerly ran the bases in the first. Gonzalez removed him from the game before Atlanta took the field in the bottom of the inning.
Gonzalez and Upton said it wasn’t serious and he could play in the next couple of days.