Tempers flare in Braves' loss to Rockies
Catcher Gerald Laird made clear he doesn't blame Corey Dickerson at all for the backswing that hit him on the side of the head and forced him out of the game.
Tempers quickly flared, though, after the eighth-inning incident, setting off a tense sequence and leading to several ejections as the Colorado Rockies beat the Braves 10-3 on Thursday.
"The barrel knocked my mask off and got me right in the side of the jaw," said Laird, who was on the ground for several minutes before managing to get up and walk off the field, leaning on a trainer. "I felt a little dazed when I went down, seeing some stars. They just wanted to get me out of there because I just took two blows to the head. Right now I feel OK."
The Rockies led 8-3 in the eighth when Dickerson fouled off a pitch before smacking the side of Laird's head with the backswing. Evan Gattis replaced Laird, and Braves reliever David Carpenter then hit Dickerson on the thigh with the first pitch after play resumed.
Laird said he knows there was nothing intentional behind Dickerson's backswing.
"It's just one of those things that you foul a pitch off and he just caught me in the right spot," Laird said. "I have no hard feelings for him."
The episode, however, left some hard feelings on both sides.
Carpenter was ejected immediately after hitting Dickerson.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss bolted from the dugout and began yelling at Carpenter, as well as in the general direction of Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Weiss was held back by home plate umpire Jordan Baker before being ejected. When he returned to the dugout, Weiss smashed a bat against the wall.
"If you think a guy can foul a ball off and then at the same time hit the catcher on the backswing on purpose, you got no clue," Weiss said. "They made their decision. They made a bad choice."
Gonzalez said he could understand why Weiss could get upset.
"We hit (Josh) Rutledge in the head yesterday," Gonzalez said. "We tried to throw the ball in on Dickerson, that's where we want to get him out. I can understand why he got upset, I don't blame him one bit. I don't think it was on purpose, what Carpenter did. The only one who knows that is Carp. It's baseball."
In the ninth, Rockies reliever Nick Masset hit Gattis on the hip with a pitch. Both Masset and Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells were immediately tossed.
Carpenter denied throwing intentionally at Dickerson.
"I tried to run a fastball in on him, it cut a little bit and caught him," Carpenter said. "Dickerson was looking at me and I thought, 'You just got hit, go to first base, that's all there is to it.' Get on with the next batter. I was surprised getting tossed out of the game there, I was preparing for the next hitter."
Jhoulys Chacin (1-4) pitched seven scoreless innings for his first win of the season, backed by home runs from Charlie Blackmon and Justin Morneau.
Chacin, who missed the first month of the season with a right shoulder strain, struck out five and walked two. Rookie Tommy La Stella was the only Braves player to get a hit off him, singling in the second and doubling in the fifth.
In his toughest inning, with the Rockies ahead 3-0, Chacin issued consecutive one-out walks in the seventh to Chris Johnson and La Stella but got out of the jam by getting Andrelton Simmons to ground into a double play.
Ervin Santana (5-3) struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings and scattered seven hits but two of them were home runs.
Chacin, who did not receive any run support in three of his outings and totaled just 10 runs overall in his seven previous starts, helped himself early. He singled in the third inning ahead of Blackmon's home run.
It was the 12th home run of the season by Blackmon, all from the leadoff spot, which leads the majors and is the most by a Rockies player in the No. 1 spot in team history.
Morneau connected on Santana's first offering in the sixth for his 11th of the season, a two-out drive that sailed over the wall in center field into the Braves' bullpen.
The Rockies pulled away with a five-run seventh, getting an RBI single from Charlie Culberson and a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Ryan Wheeler. Rutledge scored from third on a wild pitch and Morneau delivered a bases-loaded single to drive in the final two runs of the inning.
The Braves scored all their runs in the eighth on Jason Heyward's RBI single and B.J. Upton's homer.
After Carpenter was ejected, Anthony Varvaro took over and the Rockies added two runs on RBI singles by pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes and Blackmon.
NOTES: La Stella had two hits for his seventh multihit effort in his first 15 career games. ... The Braves lost to the Rockies for just the fifth time in the last 21 meetings. ... The Braves open a series against the Los Angeles Angels with RHP Aaron Harang (4-5) opposing C.J. Wilson (7-5) in the opener Friday.