Rockies score four early in rainy 5-3 win over Braves

DENVER — Jace Peterson did what he does with bases loaded, doubling to drive in the Braves’ first two runs in a three-run fifth inning and give them a needed jolt on a long, wet Thursday night at Coors Field.

But Braves relievers couldn’t stop the Rockies early — starter Alex Wood exited during a long first-inning rain delay – and the Braves couldn’t score early or late in a 5-3, series-opening loss that moved at a glacial pace due to rain and field-repair delays, numerous pitching changes and double-digit hits for each team.

“They (Rockies) also had a rain delay last night, so obviously nobody was enjoying that tonight,” Braves left fielder Kelly Johnson said. “What can you do? It’s just a really unfortunate thing that got to that point. It stinks. It just takes something out of it. That’s all, it just takes a little fun out of it.

“But you’ve still got to play. I don’t think anybody mailed it in. It’s just frustrating and distracting.”

After winning six of their first seven July games, the Braves (42-44) have lost two in a row at Milwaukee and Colorado, and need to win the remaining three games of the series to avoid going to the All-Star break with a record below .500.

The Rockies scored two runs in each of the first two innings against rookie reliever Jake Brigham, who gave up eight hits, including four doubles and a Drew Stubbs homer, before recording his seventh out. He settled down and lasted four innings, helping to ease the burden on the rest of the bullpen on a night things could really have gotten out of hand.

Since Wood threw only two pitches, the Braves will have him start Sunday’s series finale in place of rookie Manny Banuelos, who’ll be available out of the bullpen Saturday or Sunday.

“After coming back inside (during the delay) and seeing what the radar was looking like going into gametime, I was pretty surprised that they wanted to start that game,” Wood said. “But that’s the way it goes, and it sucks. I mean, Brigham has to wear it (coming) out of the bullpen. I know he’s been a starter this year down in the minor leagues, but he’s been up here however long he’s been up here, and having to go in in that situation — it’s unfortunate.

“You’ve got to deal with it, move on, move forward, and I look forward to taking the ball on Sunday.”

Wood was just the second major league pitcher in the past six seasons to make a start without throwing a strike. He joined former Royals pitcher Danny Duffy, who threw one pitch in a September 2014 against the Yankees before leaving with an injury. Wood’s two-pitch outing was also the shortest start since Duffy’s.

“I think the weatherman and the people making that decision (to play) get second-guessed more than I do,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who praised the grounds crew for keeping the field playable, but conceded things deteriorated to the point there was some concern over the health of players given the conditions.

The Rockies maintained a 4-0 lead until the fifth, when the Braves loaded the bases on singles by Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons and a Jonny Gomes walk. That set the stage for Peterson to continue his stunning success with bases loaded.

Peterson lined a two-run double to make him 8-for-12 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and 20 RBIs in bases-loaded at-bats. He’s driven in more than half of the 39 runners who’ve been on base when he’s come up with bases full.

Cameron Maybin followed with a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 4-3. But the Rockies answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when the first three batters against reliever Mike Foltynewicz produced a double, single and double. Carlos Gonzalez hit the leadoff double, his career-high third double in the game.

Foltynewicz retired the next six batters, including four strikeouts, to complete his two-inning stint in his second appearance since being recalled from the Triple-A Gwinnett rotation and moved to the bullpen to give the Braves an extra arm in the Rockies series. He threw several fastballs clocked at 99 mph.

After a highly questionable decision to start the game despite storms in the area, only a half-inning was completed before the skies opened and the winds kicked up while Wood was beginning to work in the bottom of the first. He threw just two pitches (balls) to leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon before play was halted.

The delay lasted 2 hours, 6 minutes, and effectively cost both teams their starting pitchers. Neither manager wanted to risk injury by having a starter warm up again after such a long break.

“I think it was the right decision (not to bring Wood back),” Gonzalez said. “Both managers did it. (Rockies starter Kyle) Kendrick couldn’t come back, either. And then you’ve got a bullpen game, and here we go. This field is unforgiving. But we got through it. We got through it.”

That development didn’t work in the Braves’ favor: Kendrick was 1-4 with a 6.70 ERA in six home starts before Thursday, with 13 home runs and a .608 slugging percentage allowed in 41 2/3 innings at Coors Field. Wood has excelled on the road, entering Thursday with a 5-2 record and 2.43 ERA in 10 road starts.

“Yeah, he’s been very, very good on the road,” Kelly Johnson said. “Recently, all of it (home and road). It would’ve been a good way to come in and get some momentum in the series. But, shoot, hopefully no more rain.”

“It’s just weird. You take everything into account, that was just a weird night.”

Former Braves pitcher David Hale replaced Kendrick to start the second inning. Hale allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings before leaving the game with what was diagnosed as a mild left groin strain.