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Fleet-footed Fowler saves Jimenez's feat

Fleet-footed Fowler saves Jimenez's feat

ATLANTA -- Saturday night was already special for center fielder Dexter Fowler.

On Friday, for the opener of a weekend series against the Braves, the Atlanta-area native had his grandfather in the stands for the first time since he made the Majors. On Saturday, both grandparents were there for the Rockies' 4-0 victory.

Grandma and Grandpa also witnessed history, thanks in large part to their grandson.

Fowler, 24, covered roughly 120 feet and made a lunging catch on Troy Glaus' line drive into the left-center-field gap to open the seventh inning. It was the closest the Braves came to a hit. Because of that play, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez was able to complete the first no-hitter in Rockies history.

Fowler stretched to his full 6-foot-5 length to backhand the ball, then slid to the grass on his stomach. He said a wind that had already knocked down several hard-hit balls helped.

"The ball was in the left-center gap, but it hung up there long enough," Fowler said.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said he saw Fowler's speed in slow motion.

"I kept on watching the ball and watching Dexter," Tulowitzki said. "He kept closing in on it.

"It's a good thing he's fast."

Fowler also rushed toward the infield for a basket catch of a soft liner against the hitter that followed Glaus, Yunel Escobar.

For Fowler, that blazing speed trumped a growing case of nerves.

"I think everybody is nervous," he said. "You want to try your best, but at the same time, you don't want to mess up anything.

"I didn't realize until the sixth inning, 'Ah, he has a no-no going.' "

And Fowler kept it going, thanks mainly to the play on Glaus.

"There was a moment where you didn't know and/or think he was going to get to that ball as it got to the warning track," manager Jim Tracy said.

Jimenez looked at Fowler and said, "Wow."

The understated Glaus said, "It looked good. He made a good play."

Braves rookie Jason Heyward grew up in the Atlanta area, three grades behind Fowler. They never played against each other, but now they work out together in the offseason. Maybe at some point they can laugh about this game.

On Saturday, though, all Heyward could do was admire the catch.

"He ran a good route, stuck his glove out there and it was a [great] catch," Heyward said. "When you're on the other end, you wish it would have fell."

After that play, Jimenez truly believed he could bring home a no-hitter.

"I was thinking, 'If I get the next three guys in the eighth inning, we have a pretty good chance,' " Jimenez said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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