Chad Bettis drew a standing ovation when he took the mound for the first time since cancer treatment, then threw seven impressive innings Monday night as the Colorado Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0.
Bettis scattered six hits, walked none and struck out two. He hadn't pitched in the majors since being diagnosed with testicular cancer in November.
Bettis had surgery for the condition, but tests in March showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He later underwent chemotherapy.
"I don't think I was really in tune to what was going on until about the fifth (inning)," Bettis said after the game. "So many emotions; I was trying to get them under control, but it was taking a lot longer than expected.
"It was great, I was just trying to soak it all in," Bettis said.
The crowd at Coors Field gave Bettis a big cheer as he went out to pitch the first inning. The Braves' best chance to score against him came when Ender Inciarteled off with a triple, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to an inside-the-park home run.
Asked about trying not to think too much about this start in the days leading up to it, Bettis said, "It crept in this morning, when I woke up. Just thinking about everything that happened, everything my family and I have been through . . . I was holding back tears until the start."
Bettis said he never had any doubt that he would return.
"The question was when was going to be and what would it look like," said Bettis. "Was I going to be in the bullpen helping them back there, or was I going to be able to start.
"So the fact that I'm able to start again is exciting."
The 28-year-old Bettis led Colorado in starts (32), wins (14) and innings (186) last season. He left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh with the game still scoreless.
Colorado scored three times in the eighth off Rex Brothers (2-3), who relieved starter Julio Teheran. The Rockies began the tied with Arizona for the top NL wild-card spot.
Mike Dunn (5-1) got the win and Greg Holland closed for his 35th save. Holland, who had blown his previous two save chances, gave up a single and walk in the ninth before getting the last out.
Teheran allowed four hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
Charlie Blackmon led off the Colorado eighth with a triple. After an intentional walk, Gerardo Parra singled through the drawn-in infield to put the Rockies ahead.
Carlos Gonzalez's two-run single off Jason Motte gave Colorado some insurance.
Braves: OF Matt Kemp (right hamstring strain) did some running and is scheduled to do more Wednesday. He will take Thursday off but could play Friday against Cincinnati.
Rockies: OF/1B Ian Desmond (right calf strain) did some hitting and running on Colorado's recent road trip.
The Rockies got a scare Sunday when All-Star 3B Nolan Arenado, who leads the majors with 100 RBI, left the game in Miami after being hit on the left hand with a pitch. He and the team feared he suffered a broken bone but X-rays showed only a bruise.
"I was a little surprised. I thought I broke it," Arenado said Monday. "It got super tight right after. Last time I broke my finger, and I've broken bones before, it gets super tight and it usually comes out broken."
He didn't start but he pinch-hit in the seventh, fouling out to first. "I'm good to go. It hurts but I've dealt with worse pain," he said. "It's not as swollen as we thought it was going to be. It's just pain tolerance.
Before the game, the Rockies honored Don Baylor, the club's first manager, with a video tribute and a moment of silence. Baylor, who managed Colorado in the first six seasons, passed away Aug. 7 at age 68 after a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma. The Rockies hung his jersey in their dugout.