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Rockies youngsters build lead, hang on against Braves

DENVER (AP) -- While sitting in his chair and answering
questions, Troy Tulowitzki tried to peer through the crowd and
watch the final moments of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game on
the big-screen television.

"I'm still learning," the Rockies shortstop said after
Colorado's 10-9 win over Atlanta on Saturday. "I had some quality
… "

He suddenly perked up in his chair.

"What happened?" he said.

"Interception. Notre Dame won," someone answered.

A fan of Notre Dame, Tulowitzki smiled and settled comfortably
back in his chair.

The youngster had plenty of reason to grin after Saturday's
game. He had a pair of hits, drove in two and made a spectacular
play on a ball that was hit deep in the hole.

"I'm learning more every day and trying to get quality at-bats," Tulowitzki said.

He wasn't the only youngster turning in a quality performance.
Jeff Salazar, Jeff Baker, and Chris Iannetta -- all just recently
called up -- combined to go 6-for-13 with three RBI.

"It's been a promising look," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Especially with Baker. He's now driven 17 runs in 40 at bats
this season.

"You'd be crazy to ask for that," Hurdle said.

Almost as crazy as it would be to pitch to Andruw Jones these
days. Hurdle can't wait to see the slugger leave town. He's
crushing the Rockies.

Jones went 4-for-4 with two homers and three RBI on Saturday.

"He's done a lot of trotting since he's been here and everytime
I look up the ball is bouncing off a wall," Hurdle said.

Yet home runs No. 38 and 39 meant little to Jones. His team's
chances of making the postseason are now almost zero. They trailed
the Dodgers by six games in the wild-card race coming into
Saturday.

"You aren't where you want to be as a team, but you still have
to try and finish strong," Jones said. "You have to show the
younger players that we can battle to win a division title."

Battling would be a good way to describe what Jeff Francis was
doing on the mound Saturday. In frigid 44-degree weather, he
couldn't locate his fastball. He allowed runs to score in four of
the five innings he pitched.

But Francis (13-11) found enough control to become the
winningest lefty in Rockies history.

He earned his 30th win for Colorado, surpassing Brian Bohanon's
team mark for left-handers.

It also was Francis' 18th career win at Coors Field, the
third-most in club history. Jason Jennings leads the way with 31.

"To hold any record is an accomplishment," Francis said.
"It's flattering."

He allowed nine hits and five runs overall, but worked out of a
crucial bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fifth by getting Jeff
Francoeur to roll into a 5-4-3 double play.

Francis even helped his own cause with a two-run single in the
second.

Kaz Matsui was a tough out Saturday, hitting a two-run triple in
a six-run third and scoring a pair of runs. He wound up 2-for-3.

He wasn't the only one doing some damage. Matt Holliday hit a
solo shot to right-center for his 31st homer of the season.

"They have a nice hitting ballclub," Bobby Cox said. "They
have some real good, young hitters."

Trailing 10-6, the Braves loaded the bases with one out in the
eighth, and the Rockies brought in Jeremy Affeldt to face
pinch-hitter Chipper Jones, who had yet to play in the series due
to a sore foot.

Affeldt struck out Jones and was relieved by Nate Field, who
gave up a two-run single to Edgar Renteria. Manuel Corpas came in
to face Matt Diaz, who grounded out to end the inning.

Brian Fuentes came on in the ninth to earn his 28th save in 33
chances. He allowed an RBI double to Willy Aybar before striking
out Adam LaRoche and Todd Pratt to end it.

"No leads are safe here," Cox said. "One more hit in either
the eighth or ninth and it's a different game."

Atlanta starter Kyle Davies (3-6) lasted just 2 1/3 innings,
giving up 12 hits and a career-high nine earned runs.

"I gave up some cheap hits," Davies said.

Game notes
The Rockies topped the 2 million mark in attendance for the
13th time in their 14-year history. ... The Rockies will honor 3B
Vinny Castilla on Sunday with a video tribute and by starting him
at third base. Castilla plans to retire following this season. ...
Jose Mesa made his 963rd career appearance.