Braves rookie suffers forgettable debut in loss to Rockies

Needless to say, this was not how Braves rookie pitcher Kris Medlen dreamed his major-league debut would unfold.

A few innings after Colorado's Todd Helton got the first hit against Medlen, Helton added the first grand slam against James Parr, who inherited a fourth-inning, bases-loaded jam from his fellow Braves rookie.

And so it went Thursday night at Turner Field, where Medlen got wild and got pounded in a 9-0 Rockies rout that spoiled manager Bobby Cox's 68th birthday and gave Colorado a split of the four-game series.

To top off the Braves' gloomy night, Chipper Jones left in the eighth inning with an injury to his right big toe that could sideline him for at least Friday night's series opener against Toronto and its ace, Roy Halladay.

"We'll see how it feels day-to-day, but I definitely heard something pop," said Jones, who said he got hurt when he short-stepped first base on a sixth-inning groundout and banged the bunion on his right big toe against the base.

"There's some swelling in the joint already. We'll just have to see how we wake up."

In 2005, Jones spent six weeks on the disabled list and wearing a protective boot for a ligament injury beneath his left foot. He said this latest injury didn't feel anywhere near as severe as that.

While Jones was explaining his maladies, Medlen, 23, tried to explain what happened when his usual control completely abandoned him in the fourth inning.

"It's just puzzling to me," said Medlen, who was charged with five runs, three hits, five walks, two wild pitches and a balk, and left after failing to retire any of the four batters he faced in a fourth inning.

"The wheels came off. I can't explain it. It's disappointing."

Rockies starter Aaron Cook (3-1) threw a four-hitter for his second career shutout. He recorded 20 groundball outs and retired the final 16 batters.

Then there was Medlen. After allowing a leadoff single by Ryan Spilborghs in the fourth, he walked the next two batters on eight consecutive balls, including a wild pitch that sailed at least five feet outside the batter's box.

"I don't know what happened to Medlen in the fourth inning," said Cox, who went to the mound with a trainer to check on the pitcher after noticing a drop of 4-5 miles per hour in his fastball velocity. "I'll have to talk to him tomorrow to see what happened. He said his arm was fine. ... We have to get to the bottom of this."

After the two walks loaded the bases, Medlen hit Cook with a pitch to bring in the second run of the game. That was all for Medlen, and the little right-hander looked as nervous and fidgety in his postgame interview as he did pitching.

Parr retired the next two batters, but Helton hit a full-count grand slam to right field, the ball bouncing off the top of the padded fence and over.

Medlen said he didn't know why his pitching mechanics felt so out of whack in the fourth inning, or why the ball didn't feel right coming out of his hand.

"After that first [wild pitch] to my right, he said the ball was slipping off his thumb and he couldn't get a grip on it," catcher Brian McCann said. "... I think he's going to be fine. He's going have a bright future.

"It's tough [in your debut]. Everybody's a little nervous your first time you step on the field. I couldn't feel my legs in my debut. It's nerve-wracking.

"I can't imagine being a starting pitcher standing in the middle of the field."

When Cox was asked if nerves might have caused the fourth-inning problems, he said, "Why would he be [nervous] after pitching the first three innings?"

Medlen went 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA at Class AAA Gwinnett, and had a .157 opponents' average with 44 strikeouts and 10 walks in 37? innings.