ATLANTA — Rookie Spencer Strider had 16 strikeouts to set a Braves record for a nine-inning game and allowed just two hits in eight innings to lead Atlanta to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.
Strider fanned his last two batters with two runners on base in the eighth — with his fastball still hitting 98 mph — to complete his masterful 106-pitch outing.
“I lost track after five [innings],” said Strider of his strikeout count. Teammate Kyle Wright filled in the rookie about the record.
“I came out of the game and Kyle was telling me something about John Smoltz or whatever. It didn’t make any sense,” Strider said.
Smoltz held the previous Atlanta record with 15 strikeouts in a nine-inning game against the New York Mets on April 10, 2005, and against Montreal on May 24, 1992. Warren Spahn had 15 strikeouts in a nine-inning game in 1960, when the franchise was in Milwaukee. Spahn also had 18 strikeouts in a game in 1952, but that came in extra innings.
Finally, Strider was made to understand.
“It’s pretty wild, the guys who’ve thrown in this organization, it’s a long, incredible list,” Strider said. “I’m just grateful to be here and having success.”
Austin Riley and rookie Michael Harris II hit solo home runs for Atlanta.
Strider threw only 42 pitches through his first four innings, setting a pace that allowed him to log his longest career start. He did not walk a batter, making him the fourth rookie in major league history with 16 strikeouts and no walks in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The others were Jon Gray (2016), Kerry Wood (1998) and Dwight Gooden (twice in 1984).
Strider also joined Wood, who had 20 strikeouts in a one-hitter in 1998, as the only rookies with at least 16 strikeouts and two or fewer baserunners allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st save in 36 chances.
The Braves won two of three against Colorado and remained three games behind the National League East-leading Mets.
Strider (9-4) was dominant in extending the Rockies’ road woes. Colorado fell to 20-44 away from Coors Field, a .313 winning percentage that ranks last in the majors. The right-hander struck out the side in the second and seventh innings.
Strider lasted only four innings and had five walks in the Braves’ 6-2 win at Colorado on June 4. This time, the rookie had far better control.
“It’s plus velocity, and I felt like one thing he was able to do better tonight was throw his slider more effectively,” Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon said. “I think that’s kind of what made him better tonight. It looked like he settled in and had a very good feel for that slider.”
Strider set his previous high with 13 strikeouts in a 13-1 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 2.
Strider retired Colorado’s first 12 hitters before CJ Cron lofted a soft single into right field to lead off the fifth. He didn’t allow another hit until Michael Toglia’s single to right with one out in the eighth.
Elias Diaz then reached when first baseman Matt Olson was charged with an error after missing shortstop Dansby Swanson’s throw, leaving runners on first and third. Swanson struck out Elehuris Montero and then fanned Sean Bouchard — both of whom whiffed on sliders — to set the Atlanta record.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Strider inspired comparisons to former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, now with the Dodgers, in spring training.
“Now he looks more like Tom Seaver,” Snitker said.
Making only his 30th career appearance and 17th start, Strider posted his fifth career game with at least 10 strikeouts. He has won his past three decisions and has shown no signs of fading late in the season. He began the year in Atlanta’s bullpen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.