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Minor can't overcome homers by Cuddyer, Tulowitzki as Braves fall to Nicasio, Rockies 3-1

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ATLANTA - Atlanta's Mike Minor paid for leaving pitches over the middle of the plate, even against the Rockies' weakened lineup.

Minor gave up homers to Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki and the Braves couldn't continue their success against Juan Nicasio in a 3-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday.

The Rockies were without some of their big bats. Carlos Gonzalez missed his third straight start with a swollen finger and Nolan Arenado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger. Colorado still had enough offence to beat the Braves on a day Minor acknowledged he wasn't at his best.

Minor (2-3) allowed three runs on four hits — including the two homers — in 6 2-3 innings.

"I'm not happy with the loss, but to not have your best stuff and to get a quality start out of it, I'll take it," Minor said.

Minor said Cuddyer and Tulowitzki hit pitches that caught the middle of the plate because his two-seam fastball wasn't moving in on right-handers.

"So I was missing with that and I was falling deeper in the counts and having to throw it more over the middle of the plate," Minor said.

Trailing 3-0, the Braves tried to rally in the eighth. B.J. Upton singled off Boone Logan and moved to third on Freddie Freeman's double. Justin Upton's fly to right field off Adam Ottavino drove in B.J. Upton as Freeman advanced to third. Ottavino struck out Evan Gattis to end the inning.

LaTroy Hawkins, who had given up at least one run in each of his last three appearances, earned his 11th save with a perfect ninth inning.

The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the third on Nicasio's walks to Jason Heyward and Freeman and a single by B.J. Upton. Justin Upton ended the inning with a foul popup.

"We had the bases loaded there with the right guy at the plate early on in the game, but (Nicasio) wiggled out of that one," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There weren't a lot of opportunities, but we had some and when you don't cash in on opportunities you have games like this."

Arenado's injury came in a 3-2 loss to the Braves on Friday night. Colorado manager Walt Weiss said he wasn't surprised that his team had a strong recovery.

"It was a tough night last night, a tough loss and obviously Nolan's situation," Weiss said. "Just like we've been all year, this team is resilient and they turn the page and show up the next day and compete. They don't lose confidence. It was a good gut-check for us today."

Nicasio (5-2) didn't need much offence. The right-hander turned around his ugly history against the Braves — 0-3 and 9.82 ERA in four starts. He gave up only two hits in six shutout innings. Leaning on his fastball, Nicasio pitched around four walks and had five strikeouts.

Weiss successfully challenged home plate umpire Lance Barksdale's call that Charlie Culberson was tagged out at the plate in the seventh. Culberson, who hit a leadoff double and moved to third on D.J. LeMahieu's groundout, tried to score on pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon's grounder to first base. Culberson slid head-first with his left hand reaching for the plate as Gattis applied the tag.

The call was overturned following a lengthy review — 4 minutes, 14 seconds.

"I was hoping they didn't have enough evidence to overturn it," Fredi Gonzalez said. "But I guess coming back, seeing a different look at it, it was clear and convincing. Obviously. That was a big run there."

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who was pulled from Friday night's game by Gonzalez for losing his temper after a strikeout, was 0 for 4 in his return to the lineup. Gonzalez confirmed he and catcher Gerald Laird were caught in the crossfire when Johnson broke his bat.

Johnson has a history of similar outbursts and vowed he wouldn't have another incident.

NOTES: The Rockies recalled INF Josh Rutledge from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... The homer by Tulowitzki was the first in 71 career plate appearances at Turner Field. ... Gattis returned to Atlanta's lineup after missing four games with viral symptoms. ... The series ends Sunday when Braves RHP Julio Teheran faces Rockies LHP Franklin Morales.

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