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Questionable managerial move in ninth by Braves leads to 3-2 loss vs. Rockies

Photo by Barry Gutierrez

Photo by Barry Gutierrez

DENVER -- Atlanta third baseman Martin Prado glanced toward October after his error in the ninth inning Wednesday night enabled the Colorado Rockies to beat the Braves 3-2.

"I hope this game is not going to cost us at the end of the year," Prado said.

After Eric O'Flaherty (1-3) retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth, Dexter Fowler hit a grounder that went through Prado's legs. The speedy Fowler reached second on the play. O'Flaherty, a left-hander, intentionally walked pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton to pitch to left-handed hitting Carlos Gonzalez. He lined O'Flaherty's first pitch into right field, scoring Fowler.

"No excuse," Prado said. "I should've stayed down, stopped that ball. Just one of those plays -- should I go get it, I wasn't that sure, I didn't. It's not regret. It's completely my fault. No excuse."

The Braves had tied the game in the eighth. Rex Brothers, who took over after starter Juan Nicasio gave up one run and five hits in seven innings, gave up a leadoff single to Jordan Schafer. With two outs, right-hander Matt Lindstrom came on to pitch to Dan Uggla. On Lindstrom's first pitch, Schafer stole second. And he scored on Lindstrom's second pitch, which Uggla lined to center for a single, extending his hitting streak 12 games, matching his career-high.

The Braves scored in the second when Jason Heyward singled with one out, moved to third on a groundout and scored when David Ross doubled off the base of the wall in left-center.

Tim Hudson, who had won three consecutive starts, gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, the final six scoreless. Gonzalez led off the first with a single and scored when Todd Helton extended his hitting streak to nine games by driving Hudson's first pitch into the stands in right field for his 11th home run.

"I felt pretty good from the start," Hudson said. "Helton, man, I don't know what to throw him. Honestly, I don't think I've thrown him a fastball inside in three years, and first pitch, he yanks it for a homer. He's a great hitter. Obviously, I've got to figure out a better way to get it out in the future."

The Braves had an excellent chance to score but came up short in the sixth when the Rockies made three good defensive plays. Prado led off and was safe when Nicasio, covering first base, dropped a toss from Helton, and Freddie Freeman followed with a double.

Uggla hit a ball a couple steps to the left of third baseman Ian Stewart. He made a perfect sidearm throw home and got Prado easily.

"I think it's a good read on his part," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Prado. "The ball going to Stewart's left. It looked like (Prado) maybe just hesitated a little bit. But nobody out, it's obviously not a contact play, but if he reads that third baseman going to his left -- it's a difficult play Stewart made look pretty easy. For him to even come to the plate kind of surprised everybody a little bit."

Second baseman Mark Ellis made a diving stop to his left on a ball hit by Heyward, putting runners on second and third. Alex Gonzalez hit a ball that deflected off Nicasio and rolled slowly toward shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki made a barehanded pickup and threw out Gonzalez to end the inning.

"We get second and third, nobody out, they made some great plays defensively to keep us right there," Fredi Gonzalez said.

Huston Street (1-3) retired the side in order in the ninth and ended up the winning pitcher after Prado's fifth error of the season led to the Braves' stunning loss.

"You just hate to lose a ballgame, two outs nobody on in the ninth and one of your best defenders makes an error," Fredi Gonzalez said. "But that's the way it goes and I was the first one to pat him on the back when he came off the field."

Prado went hitless in four at-bats. And after getting thrown out at the plate on Stewart's play and making the costly error in the ninth, Prado said, "I had a real tough game offensive-wise and defensively. I guess it's one of those nights, it's going to be hard to sleep."

Notes: Uggla hit safely in 12 consecutive games from Aug. 7-20, 2010. He left after his game-tying hit in the eighth with soreness in his left calf. Uggla said he felt the soreness running out a grounder in the third but wanted to stay in the game until his final at-bat. ... The Braves are 16-5 in games Ross, the backup catcher, starts, including 6-2 when Hudson starts and Ross catches. ... C Brian McCann pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth and drove center fielder Fowler to the wall to make a catch. As a pinch-hitter, McCann is 1 for 4 with one home run. ... The Braves are 17-16 in one-run games, including 6-6 on the road.