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Rockies' Chad Bettis shuts down Atlanta Braves in return from cancer

Colorado Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis tossed seven shutout innings Monday in his first start since beating testicular cancer, leading the Rockies to a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Coors Field’s 33,641 fans saw Bettis scatter six hits and strikeout two batters in his first start of the season.

“I don’t think I was in tune to what was going on until the fifth,” Bettis told ESPN. “So many emotions. I was trying to get them under control. It was taking much longer than what was expected.”

Bettis, 28, was diagnosed with cancer in November and underwent surgery. He was on track to return for spring training, but in March, doctors found that the cancer had moved into his lymph notes and he needed to immediately begin chemotherapy.

Monday’s game almost began in disaster for Bettis. Leading off, Braves’ Ender Inciarte lined a pitch down the left field line, and as the ball scooted away from left fielder Gerardo Parra, Inciarte began to think about an inside-the-park home run. But the relay throw to the plate beat him and he was tagged out trying to score. From that moment on, Bettis dug in and allowed just four batters to reach scoring position over the next 6 2/3 innings.

“From what everybody has told me about this fella, seeing what he did tonight didn’t surprise me,” Manager Bud Black told ESPN. “I’m sure it was emotional for him, his family, the people who he’s close to, people with cancer that follow his path.”

Bettis got a no-decision as the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Closer Greg Holland recorded his 35th save of the season as Colorado improved to 66-52 on the season.

The Braves and Rockies continue Game 2 of a four-game series tonight at 6:40 p.m. MST.