Laird delivers in 8th, Braves top Rockies 3-2

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm •  Published: May 23, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — An unexpected string of four consecutive starts has helped Gerald Laird find his swing.

As a result, the veteran backup catcher is helping the Braves stretch their lead in the NL East.

Laird drove in two runs with two hits, including a tiebreaking single in the eighth, and Atlanta beat Colorado 3-2 on Friday night after the Rockies lost third baseman Nolan Arenado to a broken finger.

Arenado left the game in the second inning after fracturing his left middle finger on a head-first slide into second base. Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he didn't know details of the injury, including if Arenado will need surgery.

Arenado appears bound for the disabled list.

"He'll miss some time," Weiss said. "It's tough news for our club. He's off to a great start and a hell of a player."

Laird, 34, earned the four straight starts as Evan Gattis was held out with viral symptoms. Laird went 5 for 15 with three RBIs in the four games.

"He's supposed to be a guy that's going to fill in once a week, twice a week," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's played four days in a row and he's come up big."

Laird said the regular playing time has helped him feel more comfortable at the plate.

"I felt like the last week or so I've taken better swings," he said. "Tonight I got some pitches up and was able to take advantage of it."

Laird said he knows his role is to play behind Gattis but added "I'm ready to go every day, four , five, six, seven in a row, I'll do it."

Michael Cuddyer hit a home run for Colorado.

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson was pulled from the game by Gonzalez in the second. Johnson said he lost his temper in the tunnel after striking out. Johnson, who has a history of similar incidents, said he apologized to the team.

Ramiro Pena, who replaced Johnson, led off the eighth with a double to the center field wall off Adam Ottavino (0-1). After Andrelton Simmons and Dan Uggla struck out, Laird lined the single to left field and advanced to second when Corey Dickerson's throw bounced past catcher Jordan Pacheco.