ATLANTA — Before Evan Gattis' two-run homer ever reached the seats, Franklin Morales pounded his glove, looked to the heavens and let loose a screech of frustration.
It was an apt snapshot of the Rockies' wasted Sunday at Turner Field, a place where they have not won a series since 2005.
While Morales struggled in Colorado's 7-0 loss in the rubber game of the three-game series, Braves right-hander Julio Teheran pitched a scoreless, six-inning gem, continuing his mastery of the Rockies. And with the red-hot San Francisco Giants pasting the Minnesota Twins 8-1 Sunday, the Rockies are now five games out in the National League West.
Morales, clearly the weakest link in the Rockies' rotation, gave up three homers, once again stoking questions about how much longer the Rockies can afford to send him to the mound every fifth game. He's served up 11 homers already, second-most in the National League behind Milwaukee's Marco Estrada.
"They got me," Morales said. "I tried to attack the hitters on both sides today, but sometimes I missed my spot and I got hit."
As manager Walt Weiss pointed out, the Braves are quick to punish mistakes.
"Yeah, he left some (pitches) up," Weiss said. "This Atlanta club puts balls in the seats. That's what they do, that's what they did last year. A couple of balls got elevated and they hit them out."
With plenty of pitching prospects in the pipeline, led by right-hander Eddie Butler at Double-A Tulsa, Morales' status is shakier than ever. Butler threw seven scoreless innings Sunday as Tulsa defeated Midland (Texas), 2-1. He scattered five hits and didn't allow a runner to advance past second base. Butler hasn't allowed an earned run in 22 innings.
When asked last week if Butler was major-league ready, Weiss said: "If he's not, then he's real close. I don't think there's a lot of development left. It's just the experience of being here. That's obviously what he lacks. But as far as developing a pitch or more command, I think the development is behind him."
The Braves' Gattis blasted two homers off Morales, a solo shot to center in the second, followed by a two-run rocket to left in the fourth. It was the latter home run, coming on a fat slider, that elicited emotion from Morales. Weiss gave him the hook with one out in the fifth after Justin Upton's two-run homer to left. Morales fell to 3-4 and his 5.65 ERA is the highest on Colorado's staff, as are his 24 walks.
Teheran, on the other hand, is the picture of poise and control. He allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked only one. Of his 93 pitches, 70 found the strike zone and he made Rockies batters look helpless. Nothing new there: In his last three starts against the Rockies, he's 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA.
Why does he own Colorado?
"I don't know no, help me out ... go ask him. I know I haven't had any success off him," said Troy Tulowitzki, the National League batting leader who went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout against Teheran and is now 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in his career against him.
Patrick Saunders takes readers' questions about the Colorado Rockies and MLB.
On a perfect Georgia evening, the Rockies needed to strike early. But they wasted their best chances — no, make that their only chances — in the first two innings. Charlie Blackmon and Michael Cuddyer opened the game with back-to-back singles but were stranded.
The table was set again in the second, with Charlie Culberson reaching on a single and DJ LeMahieu on an error. But Teheran worked out of it.
"After that Teheran settled in," Weiss said. "He throws a lot of strikes and has some deception. He commands all of his pitches and throws them for strikes."