published Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Braves: Lowe double keys 5-3 win

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman, right, celebrates with Dan Uggla after hitting a home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Atlanta Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman, right, celebrates with Dan Uggla after hitting a home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Atlanta Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA — A rookie is becoming one of the big bats in the Atlanta Braves’ lineup.

Freddie Freeman’s third home run in two games gave Atlanta the early lead, pitcher Derek Lowe hit a three-run double and the Braves beat the short-handed Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Tuesday night.

Freeman, who had two homers in Atlanta’s 4-1 win in Monday’s series opener, hit his 12th of the season to center field off Jhoulys Chacin in the second inning Tuesday. The rookie first baseman is hitting .273, and his 39 RBIs trail only All-Stars Brian McCann and Chipper Jones in the team standings.

“I’m not missing my pitches right now,” Freeman said.

The homer in his first at-bat gave him three in a span of five plate appearances in the first two games of the four-game series.

The Braves have scored four or more runs in seven straight games.

“I think this whole year, these guys never lacked confidence,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The pitching has been the consistent part, and now the bats are coming around a little bit.”

Freeman said Lowe was the star of the game.

“It’s him,” Freeman said, pointing to Lowe standing a couple of lockers away in the Braves’ clubhouse. “He pitched well and he got the big three-run double.”

Lowe (5-6) gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings and pushed the lead to 4-0 with his bases-loaded double in the fourth. Lowe’s hit drove in Jones, who doubled, and Dan Uggla and Nate McLouth, who both walked.

The Rockies outhit the Braves 9-7 but had no extra-base hits as Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki were held out with injuries.

“As you look back on these games, those three runs are huge,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Those are huge runs.

“We had opportunities, but they turned us away. As short-handed as we are right now, you would have loved to have had those three runs back, that’s for sure.”

Uggla added his 13th homer in the sixth.

Lowe, who has five hits this season, complained that he faltered soon after his third double.

“I think I continue to find ways to make a game, when you seem like you’re in control, to making it close,” Lowe said. “From my standpoint, that’s frustrating.

“You get a 4-0 lead and you feel good, and then you end up walking guys.”

Lowe issued two walks in Colorado’s two-run fifth.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 26th save for the Braves, who have won seven of their last eight games.

Kimbrel matched Jonathan Papelbon’s record for the most saves by a rookie before the All-Star break since 1969. Papelbon had 26 saves for Boston before the break in 2006.

Chacin (8-6) matched his career high with six walks for the second time in his last three starts. He gave up four hits and four runs in five innings.

Mark Ellis had three hits, including an eighth-inning single to give the Rockies runners on second and first. Ian Stewart’s groundout advanced the runners before Jonny Venters struck out Chris Iannetta and Jason Giambi — each on a called third strike — to end the threat.

Stewart, recalled from Class AAA Colorado Springs to begin his third stint of the season with the Rockies, started at third base and was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Gonzalez missed his second straight game after he bruised his right wrist Sunday. Tulowitzki was held out after leaving Monday night’s game with a strained quadriceps. Neither player is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

A groundout by Chacin and Charlie Blackmon’s run-scoring single helped Colorado pull within 4-2 in the fifth. Ianetta added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

Uggla was hitting .173, including walks in his first two plate appearances, before he pulled left-hander Eric Stults’ first pitch deep into the seats in left in the sixth. He added a double in the eighth.

Braves left fielder Martin Prado could begin a rehab assignment today if given the go-ahead from his physical therapist. He has been out since June 8 with a staph infection in his right calf.

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