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STL@ATL: Teheran strikes out six over seven strong

Desperate to keep their fading playoff hopes from disappearing, the Rockies will try to stop the Braves from closing out a four-game sweep Thursday night.

Those hopes will hinge on a Major League newcomer, as right-hander Chad Bettis will make his big league debut at Turner Field in the final game of the series. Bettis, who missed all of last year with a right shoulder injury, has a 3.71 ERA and 3-4 record in 12 starts with Double-A Tulsa.

Bettis threw seven scoreless innings in his last Double-A start Thursday, but his debut comes against a Braves lineup that has blistered the Rockies for 29 runs through three games -- already their most in any series this year. While any prospect awaits that first call to the Majors, Bettis did his best to be patient.

"They told me I was on the radar, go out there, have fun and don't worry about when I might get the call, because that's not in my control," Bettis said.

Colorado's offense, held scoreless for the first time since July 13 in Wednesday night's loss, will try to regain its footing against Braves starter Julio Teheran. His only start against the Rockies came in April, when he gave up eight hits but only one run for his first win of the season.

Teheran has allowed only one run in two starts since the All-Star break, crediting greater confidence in his curveball for his recent success.

"The last two games, I feel like my curveball has been my best pitch," Teheran said. "I feel like I can throw it even if they know it's coming, and they can't hit it."

Teheran's recent dominance, coupled with Mike Minor's stellar seven-inning, two-hit outing Wednesday, has reassured the Braves' front office that the team can make it to the postseason without Tim Hudson, who suffered a season-ending injury a week ago.

While the Rockies stumbled to a season-high eight games back in the National League West, the Braves' sixth straight win gave them a commanding 11-game lead -- their largest of the year -- over the Nationals in the NL East.

Rockies: Arenado's bat heating up
Nolan Arenado went 1-for-3 Wednesday night after homering in the first two games against the Braves, improving a tough July for the rookie third baseman.

Arenado's nine homers are tied for third among National League rookies and his 35 RBIs are second among rookies to Braves catcher Evan Gattis. He also boasts 128 total bases in his first year in the Majors, the most by any rookie in the league.

Best known for his stellar defensive plays, Arenado committed his eighth error and second of the series in the Rockies' third straight loss.

Braves: Upton hitless in first rehab start
Braves center fielder B.J. Upton finished 0-for-3 in his first rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett Wednesday night as he recovers from a right adductor strain.

The injury has kept Upton out of the lineup for nearly three weeks after he injured the muscle attempting to make a diving grab in a July 12 loss to the Reds. He's expected to make two more starts with Triple-A, getting an extra at-bat in each start, meaning he could rejoin the big league club as soon as Saturday.

Upton has struggled mightily at the plate this year, hitting .177 with eight homers and 20 RBIs and 102 strikeouts in 84 games.

Worth noting
• The Rockies' third straight loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night continued a long history of trouble against the Braves, moving Colorado to 61-107 all-time. The 61 wins against the Braves are the club's fewest against any NL team.

• Gattis went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles Wednesday and has a hit in 11 of 14 games since he came off the DL on July 14. Despite missing 24 games, Gattis' 15 homers and 43 RBIs lead all big league rookies. Comments