DENVER — It began as a scramble from the mound toward first to cover the bag, something Jason Grilli has done countless times in his career. This one, though, ended with a bad step and Grilli crumpled on the ground in agony.
The Atlanta Braves reliever suffered a season-ending left Achilles tendon rupture and took the loss Saturday in a 3-2 defeat to the Colorado Rockies.
Misfortune hit the Braves at the outset of the Rockies’ ninth-inning rally. Grilli (3-4) tumbled to the ground and suffered the injury to his lower left as he ran toward first to cover the bag when Drew Stubbs, the first batter he faced, hit a grounder that first baseman Chris Johnson ranged to his right to field.
Grilli sprinted off the mound toward first and suddenly tumbled to the ground, grabbing his leg in pain. Stubbs was safe on what was ruled a hit. Team trainers and manager Fredi Gonzalez ran on to the field to tend to Grilli, who remained on the ground for several minutes. He was helped to his feet, taken away on a cart for further treatment and replaced by David Aardsma.
“The pain he was in on the field was cruel,” Gonzalez said.
Charlie Blackmon was hit by a pitch from Aardsma and after Nolan Arenado struck out, Troy Tulowitzki walked to load the bases. Carlos Gonzalez, who also homered earlier, lofted a fly ball to shallow center that dropped between the charging Cameron Maybin and backpedaling shortstop Abdrelton Simmons.
“It was a tough play,” Fredi Gonzalez said. “With Simmons going back or Maybin coming in. I haven’t had a chance to digest that one.”
LaTroy Hawkins (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the victory.
The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but couldn’t convert against reliever Christian Friedrich, who induced Simmons to fly out to shallow center and struck out Ryan Lavarnway, who homered earlier.
“We had opportunities,” Jonny Gomes said after the Braves lost their fourth in a row, including three to the Rockies heading into Sunday’s series finale. “It’s an interesting ballpark. They hit some triples over our head. Blooped some in. I’ve been here before and there isn’t a method to the madness.”
Matt Wisler settled down to pitch six solid innings after being jolted in the first by Gonzalez’s two-out, two run homer that soared into the stand of evergreens beyond the center field wall. Gonzalez hit a homer to nearly the same place the night before.
Wisler fanned seven.
Atlanta evened the score at 2-2 on Lavarnway’s first home run of the season leading off the third.
Jorge De La Rosa struck out the first four batters he faced before Juan Uribe connected for his eighth homer — seventh with the Braves — in the second. He finished with seven strikeouts in six innings and allowed two runs on four hits.
Atlanta set its rotation for the second half of the season with Julio Teheran scheduled to start next Friday against the Chicago Cubs when play resumes following the All-Star break. He’ll be followed by Manny Banuelos, Shelby Miller, Matt Wisler and Alex Wood.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood (6-5) returns to the mound to start Sunday’s series finale after throwing just two pitches in Thursday’s rain-delayed opener. He replaced LHP Manny Banuelos.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (4-4) will look to bounce back after allowing a career-high 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels.