ATLANTA — Jon Gray wears a “55” jersey because 22 was taken. The flame-throwing right-hander flipped his favorite number upside-down when the Rockies called him up in 2015. With blurred eyes, Gray thinks it kind of looks like the “super sport” emblem on a muscle car.
And in the Rockies 3-0 victory over the Braves on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Stadium, Gray helped salvage a shot road trip. Gray breezed through six shutout innings and held on long enough for Mark Reynolds to blast a game-busting two-run homer in the sixth as Colorado won a road series for the first time in August.
After blundering through an interleague series in Kansas City last week, the Rockies punched back in Georgia just in time for a nine-game homestand starting Monday at Coors Field, with a critical three-game set against Arizona in the middle.
Gray struck out seven and allowed just five hits, confounding the Braves with two strikeout innings in the first, third and fourth. He held Atlanta’s 1 through 4 hitters to two hits.
He was never truly threatened, aided by backup catcher Tony Wolters, who twice threw out runners trying to steal second base. Wolters nabbed Freddie Freeman in the first and Dansby Swanson in the fifth.
Reynolds, wearing “Sheriff” on the back of his jersey, boomed a first-pitch fastball from Atlanta reliever A.J. Minter to the seats beyond left-center field. Reynolds long ago earned the nickname “Sheriff of Swattingham,” before he averaged 33 home runs per season for five years running through 2012. He’s hit 28 home runs this season.
Reynolds’ blast drove home Gerardo Parra, who twice led off with singles before scoring. His liner up the middle in the sixth set up Reynolds’ homer. And Parra’s single to right in the second set up an early 1-0 lead, with Trevor Story doubling to deep center to bring him home.
The Rockies failed to blow the game open by going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
That amplified the need for Gray to stand tall. After he forced Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki to fly out and stranded two in the sixth, Colorado manager Bud Black let him hit to lead off the seventh. He returned to the mound to pitch to one batter, Matt Adams, who singled.
Gray walked to the bench. Pat Neshek, Mike Dunn and Jake McGee closed out the game.