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COL@ATL: Lyles throws six innings of two-run ball

ATLANTA -- With many friends and family in the stands on Friday night at Turner Field, Florence, S.C., native Jordan Lyles pitched well enough to win.

"Jordan did a great job," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "An outstanding job."

Unfortunately, neither the Rockies bullpen nor lineup could take advantage of Lyles' seventh quality start in a 3-2 loss to the Braves. Colorado now has 15 road losses, second most in the National League behind the Cubs' 16.

The Rockies also suffered another great loss when third baseman Nolan Arenado exited following the top of the second with a mallet fracture in his left middle finger, an injury that will sideline him indefinitely.

Gerald Laird put Atlanta ahead for good with his second run-scoring hit of the night in the eighth, driving a two-out RBI single up the middle against Adam Ottavino. The pitch was a slider out over the middle of the plate toward the outer third.

"He's got a great slider," Weiss said of Ottavino. "He's been wiping out hitters all year with that thing. Give Laird credit. He got a big hit against one of the tougher right-handers in the league."

Ottavino, whose ERA climbed from 1.40 to 1.74, added: "I feel like he was just looking for the breaking ball. I kind of had an inkling he might have been, but I still stuck with my strength. He did a good job. I threw a hittable one, and he hit it."

The eighth inning unmade a solid turn from Lyles, who was aiming to rebound from a season-worst effort on May 17 against San Diego. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings, surrendering six earned runs on five hits and six walks in his first defeat of 2014.

Lyles showed improvement on Friday night, yielding two runs, six hits and a walk in six strong innings. His six strikeouts were his second-highest total of the year, falling only two short of the season-best eight he fanned in Cincinnati on May 10.

"I put that one behind me a day or so later," Lyles said. "I know that's not me. Everybody knows that's not me."

Weiss added: "That outing tonight looked like a lot of his outings, pretty much all of them with the exception of the last one. He's been good all year for us."

Although Lyles whittled down his walks from six to one, the one free pass he did issue proved costly. Lyles walked Dan Uggla with two outs in the second to set the stage for Laird, who put the Braves on the board with an RBI double to left-center field.

"I made an unnecessary walk to Uggla in the second and then I didn't want to walk another guy and got a base hit," Lyles said. "Even though the pitcher was behind him, I shouldn't have gave in. Hats off to Laird for making me pay for that one.

"Overall, still too many balls, really, just too many high counts. It's not what I like to do. I want to get guys to put it in play. I had more strikeouts than I usually have, and that's not a key for success for myself."

Although Lyles wished he had pitched more to contact, he held the Braves hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. One of those outs, however, was an RBI groundout by Justin Upton that gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead in the third.

However, Michael Cuddyer got the starter off the hook with a solo shot to left field in the top of the sixth. Cuddyer nearly went yard twice on the night, flying out to Upton right against the wall in same part of left field in the third.

Cuddyer finished 2-for-4 on the night, continuing a tear that has seen him bat .375 (6-for-16) since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday after missing more than a month with a left hamstring strain.

But two runs were not enough for a Colorado bullpen that got itself into one jam too many. Despite ultimately losing the lead in the eighth, the Rockies impressively managed to escape a treacherous seventh inning unscathed.

With one out, left-hander Rex Brothers gave up back-to-back singles to Tyler Pastornicky and Jason Heyward before walking B.J. Upton to load the bases. After a brief mound visit, Brothers recorded a huge strikeout of Freddie Freeman, who entered Friday night batting .365 (31-for-85) with 10 homers in his career against Colorado.

Weiss then brought in Ottavino, who retired Justin Upton on a flyout to right field, preserving Brothers' streak of eight straight scoreless innings. But Ottavino could not navigate his way out of two tough situations and ultimately took the loss.

"It was a good game," Weiss said. "They got the big hit in the end."

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