Braves ride Lowe, timely hitting past Rockies

DENVER -- Coors Field has been a house of horrors for Derek Lowe. On Friday night, he threw six strong innings in the ballpark that has vexed so many visiting pitchers.

Lowe earned his first win in a month, Garrett Anderson and Diory Hernandez hit two-run doubles and the Atlanta Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1.

Lowe entered the game 2-4 with a 6.23 ERA in nine starts in Denver, but he felt he was due for a strong outing in the Mile High air.

"I came in this time believing I could pitch a good game here," Lowe said. "To be able to pitch this well in a place I struggled and the way I had pitched the last five games in really important."

Lowe (8-7) was 0-4 in five starts since beating the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 9. He ended his personal skid with what he said was his best game all season. He gave up one run and four hits, struck out five and walked one. He left after a 52-minute rain delay that began at the end of the sixth inning.

"Derek Lowe was the No. 1 reason for us winning tonight," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He used that sinker an awful lot. He got groundballs and got some strikeouts, too. I think he's back to normal again."

Lowe's sinker got him out of trouble in the fifth when the Rockies had runners on first and second and no outs. Lowe got Carlos Gonzalez to ground into a double play and struck out pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to end the threat.

"I had been killing myself over the past five starts thinking over what I had done," Lowe said. "So I thought zero mechanical stuff. I thought just to get the ball and throw it and keep it on the ground."

Lowe got all the support he needed in the first when Milton Prado and Chipper Jones had consecutive one-out singles, and one out later, Anderson knocked in both with a double to right-center.

"It was probably a little up, but wasn't that bad of a pitch," Jimenez said. "He was looking for my fastball and he sat on that pitch."

Todd Helton made it 2-1 with a 418-foot homer with two outs in the sixth, his 10th of the season. One out later, the game was delayed by rain, ending Lowe's night.

"I was bummed," Lowe said. "The way I was struggling it would have been really nice to keep going."

Anderson and Prado both had two hits for the Braves, who before the game traded right fielder Jeff Francoeur and cash to the New York Mets for outfielder Ryan Church.

Jimenez (6-9), who no-hit Arizona for 6 2/3 innings in his last outing, is 0-3 in his last four starts. He gave up two runs and six hits, struck out eight and walked one in six innings.

The Braves extended their lead in the eighth on Hernandez's two-out double that drove in Brian McCann and Matt Diaz.

The Rockies threatened in the bottom of the inning, but reliever Eric O'Flaherty struck out Helton and Hawpe with runners on second and third.

"O'Flaherty saved the day again," Cox said. "That was a huge turning point when he got the two big strikeouts."

The Rockies, who rallied three times Thursday to beat Atlanta, couldn't come up with the big hit Friday.

"We had opportunities to score runs and we came away empty," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "That was the difference in the game. They capitalized on a couple of pitches with runners in scoring position and we had opportunities to score runs tonight and they put us down."

The Rockies lost reliever Alan Embree for the season when he was hit by a line drive and fractured his right tibia.

Embree, who relieved Jimenez after the rain delay, was taken off the field on a cart after being struck by a line drive hit by Prado in the seventh. The Rockies said he will have surgery Saturday and is done for the year.

"It's tough to take when you see something like that happen," Tracy said.

Game notes
Braves SS Yunel Escobar was out of the lineup Friday after straining his lower back in Thursday's game against Colorado. Cox said Escobar is day to day. ... Jones (sore groin) returned to the lineup after not starting the last three games. He didn't play Tuesday and Wednesday, but he came in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning Thursday.