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Gerald Laird's bat helps Braves top Rockies

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Scott Cunningham

Gerald Laird is getting extended playing time, and he's making the most of it. He had two RBI including the game-winner as the Braves top the Rockies in the opener of a three-game series.

Gavin Floyd started for Atlanta and had another solid outing, but Nolan Arenado greeted him in the second inning with a line drive off the left field wall. The relay throw from Justin Upton came to Dan Uggla and looked to be in time to get Arenado. Uggla flipped to Andrelton Simmons for the tag as Arenado slid head first past second base but according to the umpire, Arenado maintained contact with his left foot. The call was challenged but upheld and Arenado later scored on a groundout. Arenado's slide would come at a price as he had hurt his left hand on the slide and was taken down at inning's end. The diagnosis: a broken middle finger.

Atlanta would tie the score in the bottom of the second against Jordan Lyles on Laird's two-out double to score Dan Uggla who had just walked. The Braves would then take the lead in the third: with B.J. and Freddie Freeman on base, a wild pitch and a groundout by Justin Upton yielded the second run of the game.

Gavin Floyd would hold the one-run lead until the sixth when Michael Cuddyer hit a game-tying homer leading off the inning. Floyd departed with two outs in the seventh and struck out seven.

Atlanta loaded the bases in the seventh on two hits and a walk with one out, but Freeman struck out and Justin Upton was robbed of a hit on a running catch by Cuddyer in right. All that did was allow Gerald Laird to be the hero in the eighth. Ramiro Pena led off the inning with a double, but a couple of strikeouts put the rally in jeopardy. Against a tough righty with a good slider in Adam Ottavino, Laird sat on the slider and lined it to left to score Pena.

Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth, moving one save closer to John Smoltz's franchise record.

Pena entered the game in place of Chris Johnson, who was removed after having a tantrum following his second-inning strikeout. He apologized to the team after the game.

Win Expectancy

Source: FanGraphs