Originally created 08/18/99

A painful loss in Denver

DENVER -- Baseball in mile-high conditions has become such a high-powered affair that the locals don't recognize the game without a blizzard of home runs.

A pitching duel? Not here -- no way.

Imagine their surprise Tuesday night when pitching and defense shoved the hitters off center stage and the scoreboard reflected (gasp!) National League-style ball.

On the heels of Monday night's slugfest, Atlanta's offense dozed through nine innings and wasted Terry Mulholland's outstanding performance as the Rockies handed the Braves a painful 3-2 loss before a Coors Field crowd of 47,904 fans.

Mulholland, who brought a 2-5 record and 7.41 ERA in Denver into the game, went seven innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. The only trouble he experienced came against shortstop Neifi Perez, who drove in a pair of runs with a single and a home run.

"We just couldn't get it done when we needed to," right fielder Brian Jordan said. "We had our opportunities. You hate to see that when Terry Mulholland pitched a great game."

Mulholland (7-7) did outstanding work, throwing only 74 pitches in seven innings and not issuing a walk. But Jamey Wright and Colorado's bullpen were a little bit better, stranding 11 runners on base, six in scoring position. The Braves, who had 17 hits -- nine for extra bases -- in Monday's victory, collected 10 hits and only two went for extra bases. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, their only runs coming on Jordan's fielder's choice grounder in the fifth and Jose Hernandez's 18th homer in the sixth.

"You can't hit all the time," manager Bobby Cox said. "Give (Jamey) Wright credit, too."

Wright, who has handled the Braves in the past, but had little success against the rest of the National League, tiptoed around trouble by getting big outs with men on base.

He struck out Ryan Klesko with runners on the corners in the first inning, struck out Gerald Williams with a pair of men in scoring position in the second, then forced a grounder from Andruw Jones to strand two more runners in the third.

Wright, who started the season in the Rockies rotation, then spent three months at Class AAA Colorado Springs when he couldn't get anybody out, used his time well in the minors. He kept the Braves off-balance by changing speeds effectively and he worked both sides of the plate.

Wright's only problem was that he made too many pitches to get through five. So many that manager Jim Leyland was forced to turn to the bullpen to work the final four innings, a heavy load for a relief corps that pitched six innings Monday night.

Right-hander David Lee (2-0), Leyland's choice to work the sixth, made a case for Colorado's starters to work deeper into games. Hernandez hit his third pitch into the Rockies' bullpen for his second homer in two nights, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead that didn't last long.

Mulholland, who had the first shutout in Denver when he blanked the Rockies at Mile High Stadium in 1993 while pitching for the Phillies, was almost as effective in his second start for the Braves. The only run he allowed in five innings came on Perez's two-out RBI single in the third, then the Rockies shortstop drove a pitch into the left-field stands in the sixth to tie the game 2-2. Kurt Abbott followed with a double and Dante Bichette's sacrifice fly returned the lead to Colorado.

"I wish we had scored 10 (Monday night) and saved four runs for today," Jordan said.


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