Acuna homers early, Braves hold off Rockies 8-6

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Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 8, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER | Julio Teheran’s solid pitching early helped him get through a very rough patch, with a big assist from the Atlanta Braves’ lineup.

Backed by Ronald Acuna Jr.’s home run and Dansby Swanson’s three RBIs, the right-hander weathered a six-run inning — Colorado’s biggest of the season — in helping the Braves beat the Rockies 8-6 on Monday night for their first road win of the year.

“There was only one bad inning that I had,” Teheran said. “We got the offense working early and I think that’s what won the ballgame. I was good in the first four innings but I kind of got in trouble with a couple homers in the fifth. It was just one of those starts. I feel like all my pitches were working. It was just a crazy inning, I’ll call it like that.”

Nick Markakis added three hits and two RBIs for the Braves, swept in their season-opening trip to Philadelphia.

Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story homered for the Rockies, who have lost eight of nine.

Teheran (1-1) allowed six runs and five hits — all in the fifth inning — but benefited from a Braves bullpen that delivered four scoreless frames. A.J. Minter got three outs for his first save.

“It was a typical Coors Field game or inning,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I didn’t feel good up 7-0, I know that. We’re just lucky that the bullpen did a great job coming in because those are the kind of games that can end up being 15-12, so the bullpen did great, and as well as Julio pitched, I’m glad he got the win.”

Kyle Freeland (1-2) gave up seven runs and seven hits in five innings for his first loss at Coors Field since June 10 against Arizona.

“I didn’t have command of my fastball glove side,” Freeland said. “I normally do. Slider was flat, couldn’t get on top of it, couldn’t get it down in the zone. And the result is what it is. When you don’t have the two best pitches in the arsenal, things are going to go sideways quick.”

Teheran was staked to a 7-0 lead and held the Rockies hitless until Josh Fuentes singled to center field to start the fifth.

Fuentes, a rookie infielder making his first major league start, scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Hampson. Reynolds, batting for Freeland, drove the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers. Charlie Blackmon walked and Nolan Arenado singled ahead of Story’s towering home run that landed among the evergreens beyond the center field fence.

Acuna got the Braves on the board in the first, driving a 2-1 pitch from Freeland into the second deck above the Rockies’ bullpen in right-center. Acuna’s third home run of the season also scored Josh Donaldson, who was aboard on a walk.

Acuna was hit by a pitch his next time up in the third to load the bases and Markakis lined a single to center, driving in two runs to make it 4-0.

Atlanta added three more in the fifth, including Swanson’s two-run triple. Swanson came home on a wild pitch by Freeland that bounced away from catcher Chris Iannetta.

THE CATCH

Besides his offensive contributions, Swanson sprinted into foul territory from his shortstop position and made a tumbling catch of pinch-hitter Tony Wolters’ pop fly to ring up a key out in the ninth inning.

“When you have defense like that, it helps you a bunch,” Minter said. “He made an awesome play.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: Atlanta is on the mend at catcher. Backup C Tyler Flowers could be back as soon as Tuesday after missing the last two games due to a bruised right hand. “We’ll wait and see how he feels when he gets here (Tuesday morning),” Snitker said. “If he needs another day or two, so be it, we’ll give it to him. If he’s ready to go, we’ll get him out there.” Flowers was hit by a fastball Saturday against Miami. C Brian McCann strained his right hamstring earlier in that game and was placed on the 10-day injured list. C Alex Jackson was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill McCann’s roster spot. … RHP Mike Foltynewicz is set to make a rehab start Tuesday for Gwinnett. Snitker said Foltynewicz, on the 10-day injured list because of a bone spur in his right elbow, will be limited to 75-80 pitches.

Rockies: LF David Dahl was held out of the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game following his initial at-bat. He apparently tweaked his right side on a swing.

UP NEXT

Braves: LHP Max Fried (1-0) looks to build off six scoreless innings in a sparkling season debut.

Rockies: RHP German Marquez (1-0, 0.69 ERA) makes his first start of the season Tuesday night. Since the All-Star break last year, Marquez is 7-3 with a 2.38 ERA.