Braves rout Rockies; Jurrjens is first NL pitcher to 12 wins

On a night when the Braves manhandled the Rockies, Jair Jurrjens became the first National League pitcher to 12 wins, and Dan Uggla provided signs that he could be finally emerging from an epic slump.

Chipper Jones and Uggla hit two-run homers and leadoff man Jordan Schafer had four hits for the surging Braves, who beat the Rockies 9-1 on Wednesday night at Turner Field.

It was the eighth win in nine games and 13th in 16 games for the Braves, who trimmed first-place Philadelphia's lead to three games in the National League East.

“It’s a good feeling,” Jurrjens (12-3) said after winning his fourth consecutive start. “That’s what you work for during the offseason and the season, to try to start out on a good run and go into the break with good numbers, then try to grind the second half out.”

The Braves will try to complete a four-game sweep of the Rockies Thursday before traveling to Philly for a three-game series that starts Friday.

The hitting malaise that consumed Uggla’s first half-season with the Braves has subsided the past two nights as he has produced this two-game hitting line: 4-for-5 with two walks, two homers and a double. He hit a long homer in the eighth inning Wednesday, his 14th to tie Brian McCann for the team lead.

He’s still hitting just .183 with a .256 on-base percentage, but Uggla said he’s not concerned with what it’ll take to get his average to respectability by season’s end.

“I’m not even worried about that,” he said. “All I’m worried about is doing what I can to help this team win. And I know if I’m doing what I’m capable of doing, then I’m going to be able to help out.”

Jurrjens allowed five hits and one run in six innings to whittle his majors-leading ERA to 1.87. He’s 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in his past four starts and tied the Yankees’ CC Sabathia for the major league wins lead.

He retired the first 10 batters he faced and became the first Braves pitcher since John Smoltz in 1996 to begin a season with at least 12 wins in his first 16 starts. Smoltz was 14-1 after 16 starts.

“This season is still long,” Jurrjens said. “Everybody know what happened to Ubaldo [Jimenez] last year.”

Colorado’s Jimenez went 15-1 before the All-Star break in 2010, then 4-7 after the break.

“I don’t want the same thing to happen,” said Jurrjens, who is a candidate to start for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game at Phoenix.

“After the season we can talk about the first half. There’s still a lot of big games to play, big games to pitch. The goal is to get into the playoffs.”

The Braves had a 2-0 lead before making their first out.

Schafer led off the first inning with a triple, and Alex Gonzalez followed with an RBI single. McCann doubled to score Gonzalez, and the Braves were a homer shy of hitting for a team cycle, still with none out in the first.

Jones batted fourth and didn’t hit a home run in the first inning. He waited until the third, when his two-run homer pushed the Braves’ lead to 5-0 against Rockies starter Aaron Cook (0-4). McCann led off the inning with a single.

A five-run lead again seemed almost like overkill for Jurrjens, who has allowed more than two earned runs only twice in 16 starts this season and never more than four runs.

The Braves have outscored their opponents 23-2 in Jurrjens’ past three starts.

The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and nine of their past 12, didn’t have a base runner until Jonathan Herrera’s one-out single in the fourth inning.

Jurrjens’ 16-inning scoreless streak was snapped in the fifth when Ian Stewart doubled and scored on Matt Pagnozzi’s single.

It was the first run off the Braves right-hander since Alberto Gonzalez’s third-inning homer for San Diego on June 25.

After Pagnozzi spoiled the shutout bid Wednesday, Cook followed with a single through the infield to put runners on the corners with one out. But Jurrjens coaxed a flyball to shallow left and a groundout to end the inning without further damage.

Jurrjens worked out of another jam in the sixth, after the first two batters reached on a walk and an error by Uggla, which snapped the Braves’ season-high eight-game errorless streak.

McCann threw out Ty Wigginton trying to steal second base for the second out in the inning, and after another walk Jurrjens got a groundout to preserve the 5-1 lead.

“The first couple of innings before they got that first hit, I was on a good roll,” Jurrjens said. “He got on base and they really started taking a lot of pitches after that. I was falling behind early, which made it difficult to make them swing early in the count. I just made my pitches when I needed to make my pitches.”