Braves rookie Strider hits Atlanta record 16 in win over Rox

ATLANTA (AP) — Spencer Strider had trouble understanding why Braves teammates started talking to him about John Smoltz when he finished the eighth inning against Colorado.

The rookie had no idea he broke an Atlanta record held by the Hall of Famer.

Strider struck out 16 batters — the most by any Braves pitcher since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 — while allowing two hits in eight innings to lead the Braves to a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night .

Strider struck out his final two batters with two runners on base in the eighth — his fastball still hitting 98 mph — to complete his masterful 106-pitch outing.

“I lost track after five (innings),” Strider said of the strikeout count. Teammate Kyle Wright filled in for the rookie record.

“I came out of the game and Kyle was telling me something about John Smoltz or whatever. It didn’t make any sense,” Strider said.

Finally, Strider understands.

“It’s pretty wild, the guys that have come into this organization, it’s a long, unbelievable list,” Strider said. “I’m just grateful to be here and to be successful.”

Austin Riley and rookie Michael Harris II had solo hits for Atlanta.

Strider threw just 42 pitches through his first four innings, setting a pace that allowed him to record the longest start of his career. He didn’t even walk a batter.

Smoltz hit 15 in a game twice — against Montreal on May 24, 1992 and against the New York Mets on April 10, 2005. Hall of Famer Warren Spahn holds the Braves all-time record with 18 hits against the Chicago Cubs on June 14, 1952 , when the team played in Boston.

Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st save in 36 chances.

The Braves have won two of three against Colorado and are three games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.

Strider (9-4) was dominant in extending the Rockies’ road woes. Colorado fell to 20-44 away from Coors Field, a .313 hitting percentage that ranks last in the majors. The right-hander struck out the side in the second and seventh innings.

Strider lasted just four innings and had five walks in the Braves’ 6-2 win at Colorado on June 4. This time, the rookie had much better control.

“He’s plus speed and I felt like one thing he could do better tonight was throw his slider more effectively,” Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon said. “I think that made him better tonight. It seemed like he settled in and had a really good feel for that slider.”

Strider’s previous high was 13 strikeouts in a 13-1 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 2.

Strider retired the first 12 Colorado hitters before CJ Cron lifted a soft single to right field to lead off the fifth. He didn’t allow another hit until Michael Toglia’s single to right with one out in the eighth.

Elias Díaz then reached when first baseman Matt Olson was charged with an error after missing Dansby Swanson’s throw to the plate, leaving runners on first and third. Swanson struck out Elehuris Montero and then fanned Sean Bouchard — both heard sliders — to polish off his diamond.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Strider inspired comparisons to former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, now with the Dodgers, in spring training.

“He looks more like Tom Shiver now,” Snitker said.

KUHL DISAPPEARS IN THE FIFTH

Rockies right-hander Chad Kuhl (6-8) allowed three runs on five hits, including two homers and a walk in 4 2/3 innings. Kuhl recorded his first four strikeouts, but left the game after giving up two runs in the fifth, including Dansby Swanson’s run-scoring single.

STRIDER STRIKE OUT

Making just his 30th career appearance and 17th start, Strider posted his fifth career game with at least 10 strikeouts. He has won his last three decisions and has shown no signs of slowing down late in the season. He started the year in Atlanta’s bullpen.

Strider set a Braves rookie single-game record for hits, the most by any pitcher in the majors since Colorado’s John Gray had 16 in a shutout against San Diego on September 17, 2016.

Strider’s performance tied for the second-most strikeouts without a walk by a rookie. The Cubs’ Kerry Wood had 20 Ks and no free passes against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998.

COACH ROOM

Rockies: OF Yonathan Daza (shoulder) begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque. … Recalled RHP Chad Smith and IF Alan Trejo from Albuquerque.

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies (broken left leg) had no hits in four at-bats as he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. … RHP Mike Soroka (right Achilles tendon) was reinstated from the injured list and optioned to Gwinnett, where he is scheduled to begin his fourth rehab start Friday. … IF Orlando Arcia (strained left hamstring) was activated from IL after missing 20 games. … RHP Jesse Chavez, claimed off waivers by the Angels on Tuesday, was activated.

NEXT

Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (7-9, 4.88 ERA) is scheduled to face Reds RHP Luis Cessa (3-2, 5.36) in Friday night’s first game of a three-game series in Cincinnati.

Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (6-5 4.10) will look to improve on his 10-5 career record and 4.08 ERA against Miami when he faces Marlins RHP Sandy Alcantara (12-6, 2, 13). Alcantara is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves, including a 2-0 mark in five starts at Truist Park.

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