June 10, 2014 Updated: June 11, 2014 at 12:14 am
DENVER — Juan Nicasio had a tough outing in more ways than one.
The Colorado right-hander gave up a career-high 10 runs on top of nearly being struck in the head by a line drive, and the Rockies lost 13-10 to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
"That was a little too close. You'd have to ask Juan, but I'd guess he was a little shaken up," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Nicasio (5-5) deflected a line drive by Justin Upton with his glove in the bottom of the first in a frightening reminder of a previous episode when he fractured his neck and sustained a concussion after being hit in the head by a line drive on Aug. 5, 2011. He missed the rest of his rookie season.
"That was scary," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "You definitely look at his past history and know what happened. So it's something you don't want to see. But Juan is a tough kid. I think he's really over that. For him, he just mainly looked at that, 'I made a bad pitch. I need to make better pitches.' He's one of a kind."
Nicasio assured Weiss he was all right after the near miss and stayed in the game but he allowed seven first-inning runs, four coming on Andrelton Simmons' grand slam. He also allowed home runs by Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis before leaving with two outs in the fourth inning.
"I didn't worry about that line drive to me," Nicasio said. "I didn't do my job today. I feel bad for my team. They scored 10 runs. I need to win this game, you know? I need to make a good pitch when I need to make a good pitch."
The Braves and Rockies combined for 29 hits and neither starter made it out of the fifth inning. Atlanta's Mike Minor left after giving up two hits to start the fifth.
David Hale (2-0) pitched 2 1-3 innings of relief for the win.
The Rockies trailed 13-9 when reliever Jordan Walden walked the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth. One out later Shae Simmons came on and allowed a sacrifice fly by Justin Morneau but then struck out Josh Rutledge to end the threat.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.
Wilin Rosario homered and Rutledge had three hits for Colorado, which has lost 10 of 11 and 15 of 18 to fall six games below .500.
Falling behind by seven runs before they had a chance to swing the bat made a comeback especially tough.
Yet, Tulowitzki said, "We didn't stop at all. There's a lot of fight in this team. To give up seven in the first and score 10, we definitely fought back. It just wasn't enough tonight."
Nicasio has given up at least five runs and nine hits in his last three starts. His ERA has risen from 3.60 to 5.70 in the three outings, all losses.
NOTES: Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez had a small tumor removed from his left index finger. The procedure was performed in Cleveland. ... Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (6-3, 1.89) will face LHP Tyler Matzek, who will make his major league debut for the Rockies on Wednesday night. ... Rosario has six homers this season and 52 since the start of the 2012 campaign, the most among catchers in that span. ... The three home runs allowed by Nicasio were also a career high.
Rockies sign 1st-round draft pick Freeland
First-round draft pick Kyle Freeland signed with the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, less than a week after the club made the left-handed pitcher the eighth overall selection.
Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Freeland was 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA for the University of Evansville this season. He had 128 strikeouts in 99 2-3 innings and did not give up a homer.
The Rockies were familiar with Freeland from his days as a star pitcher for Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver. He was drafted in the 35th round by the Phillies after going 8-2 with a 1.39 ERA as a senior.
Freeland will begin his career with the Grand Junction Rockies of the Pioneer League.