DENVER -- Chad Bettis made a dazzling return Monday night, pitching seven scoreless innings for the Colorado Rockies in his 2017 debut and his comeback from cancer.
Bettis was not involved in the decision, but his storybook start paved the way to Colorado's 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Bettis, 28, was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery in late November. In March, Bettis learned the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, forcing him to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy. On Monday, he pitched in the big leagues for the first time since Sept. 30.
"There wasn't a doubt it would happen for me," Bettis said of his return to the Rockies. "The question was when it was going to be and what was it going to look like. Would I be in the bullpen or would I be able to start?"
Bettis allowed six hits with no walks and two strikeouts and got 13 outs on ground balls. He threw 89 pitches, including 62 strikes, and held the Braves hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The final two such at-bats wrapped up Bettis' outing. After Kurt Suzuki led off the seventh with a double and was sacrificed to third, Bettis got Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson to fly out. He then received a standing ovation as he walked to the Rockies' dugout.
"I don't know how to explain it," Bettis said. "You try to get your mind clear because of the task at hand, and then to be hit with that emotion, it was unbelievable. Walking in it was deep breaths."
The Rockies' game-winning rally began when Charlie Blackmon led off the eighth against former Rockies reliever Rex Brothers (2-3) with his major-league-leading 14th triple. The hit came with the count 1-2 and on Brothers' fifth pitch of the at-bat.
"I had a count in my favor and didn't execute, simple as that," Brothers said. "At this level, you see what happened. It's a matter of execution. I threw a slider belt-high, about as middle-middle as you can get."
After DJ LeMahieu was intentionally walked, Parra grounded a ball that drawn-in shortstop Swanson was unable to backhand on a short hop, and Blackmon scored.
Jason Motte relieved Brothers and walked Mark Reynolds to load the bases for Gonzalez. He singled home two runs on Motte's 0-2 pitch.
Mike Dunn (5-1) worked the eighth, and Greg Holland earned his 35th save in 38 chances. With runners on first and second, Holland got Albies to hit a soft liner to end the game.
Braves starter Julio Teheran, who took the mound with an 0-4 record and a 7.00 ERA in his past five games, gave up four singles in seven innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. He threw a season-high-tying 110 pitches, including 74 strikes, and extended his scoreless streak against the Rockies to 18 innings. In four starts at Coors Field, Teheran has not allowed a home run in 24 1/3 innings.
With runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh, Teheran struck out Pat Valaika, retired pinch hitter Nolan Arenado, who didn't start because of a left wrist contusion, on a foul pop out and struck out pinch hitter Alexi Amarista.
"I've been working to try and get back on track," Teheran said, "and today I feel like I had my best, like the old Julio Teheran that we're used to seeing."
In addition to the dicey seventh, Bettis gave up a one-out double to Nick Markakis in the fourth but stranded him at third when second baseman LeMahieu made a sliding stop on Danny Santana's grounder and threw him out. With one out in the fifth, Swanson doubled, but Bettis retired the next two batters.
"He was rough," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Bettis. "There's a reason he won 14 games last year. His stuff was cutting and had good movement. I'm glad he's back healthy and pitching, wish we could've beat him."
Brothers played collegiate summer baseball with Bettis before both pitchers began their professional careers in the Rockies' organization -- Bettis in 2010 and Brothers the following year. His misfire to Blackmon notwithstanding, Brothers was happy to witness Bettis' return.
"He's been a great friend, a true friend, and he's first class," Brothers said. "It really did me a lot to see him and see what he's overcome. He's really an inspiration to a lot of people."
NOTES: Before the game and in the middle of the seventh inning, the Rockies paid tribute on their video board to Don Baylor, who managed the team in its first six seasons and died Aug. 8 at the age of 68. ... Rockies RHP Chad Bettis was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to start against the Braves, and RHP Carlos Estevez was optioned to Albuquerque. ... Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado (bruised left wrist) pinch hit in the seventh and fouled out. He was hit in the wrist with a pitch Sunday but hit off a tee and took dry swings before Monday's game to test his wrist. ... Braves OF Matt Kemp (right hamstring) did sprints and running exercises before the game and is scheduled to do so again Wednesday and play Friday, if all goes well. ... Because of the spacious left field at Coors Field, Danny Santana and Lane Adams will man the position for San Diego in this series, rather than Matt Adams, a first baseman by trade, who has been playing left field in Kemp's absence.