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Braves hang on in Colorado

DENVER - Jeff Francoeur sat on the couch in the Atlanta clubhouse munching on a plate of barbecued ribs.

"Here's an extra rib for you," Tim Hudson said.

The rib was reward for a running catch Francoeur made in right field for the final out in the Atlanta Braves' 9-7 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.

Matt Holliday's slicing shot to right with two runners on in the ninth and two out looked like it might fall in and tie the game.

Francoeur, playing deeper than normal, raced after it and reached out his glove at the last second. The fans in the corner went quiet and Holliday threw down his helmet in disgust.

"Considering the situation, yeah it was (one of my better catches)," Francoeur said.

Holliday, who doubled off Francoeur's glove in the second, thought he had another over his head.

"I didn't hit it great, but I thought I had a chance to tie the game," Holliday said. "He made a good play. I wish he hadn't made the play."

When closer Bob Wickman was summoned into the game in the ninth, it looked like a good opportunity to restore his confidence. Wickman, who blew his first save of the season on Wednesday night in Florida, came in with a five-run cushion.

But Garrett Atkins hit a two-out, three-run double off Wickman. Bobby Cox replaced him with Steve Colyer, who walked Todd Helton to put runners on first and second.

Colyer was replaced by Peter Moylan, who got Holliday to fly out to record his first career save.

"I thought it was hit pretty well," Moylan said. "I thought, 'Did he get it?'"

Already in the clubhouse, starter Chuck James (3-2) was watching the game on the television and thought the same thing.

"I was like, 'Oh lord, here we go,'" said James, who allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings to snap a two-game skid. "This park is not too forgiving on fly balls."

Cox wasn't too worried about his closer's mental state after the game.

"Just off on his targets," Cox said. "He's never been off, I'll tell you that."

The Braves continue to come through in the clutch as they scored eight runs with two outs, including a three-run homer by Andruw Jones in the sixth. Atlanta leads the majors with 63 two-out RBIs this season.

"I don't know how to explain it," Cox said. "One thing is we have good hitters. We're always capable."

Edgar Renteria had four singles and two RBIs for Atlanta, which finished with a season-high 17 hits. Craig Wilson hit his first homer and had three hits, and Chipper Jones drove in two runs.

James pitched most of the game with a tweaked back. He hurt it in the second inning trying to beat out a double-play ball, but he stayed in the game until he was pulled in the sixth.

"It's fine," James said. "I definitely feel like I pitched a lot better than the results."

Rockies starter Jeff Francis (1-3) struggled again and was pulled after 5 1-3 innings, giving up four runs, 11 hits and three walks.

Francis, who has the third-most wins of any pitcher in Coors Field history, has surrendered 17 runs and 33 hits in his last three starts, all at home.

"I feel like I've been battling against myself," Francis said. "Not anything against the other team, but I am not making good pitches and they are hitting my mistakes. It's been the same story."

To Cox, Friday night was almost the same story he's seen unfold many times at Coors Field _ a team with a big lead blowing it in the ninth.

"Typical Denver game as it turns out," Cox said. "Francoeur is a great right fielder. I thought he made a great catch."

But the best part for Francoeur, besides the extra rib from Hudson, was the crowd going silent in the right-field corner after the game-ending catch.

"That was nice," Francoeur said with a grin. "When (the Rockies) began to rally, they (fans) got on me. It felt like Philadelphia in the ninth inning out there.

"(Holliday) almost hit it in the perfect spot. I just got a good jump on that one."

Notes: Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, thinks the team will select wide receiver Calvin Johnson with the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft on Saturday. ... Willy Taveras had his major league-leading seventh bunt single of the season in the first inning for Colorado. He finished with three hits and a stolen base. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki hit his first home run of the season.

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