When the Braves scored three runs in the first inning Wednesday against the Mets, Julio Teheran might’ve needed to pinch himself before heading back out to the mound. This kind of thing hasn’t happened often for the Braves ace, who might easily have another four or five wins this season if it did.
Chris Johnson’s two-out, three-run double in the first inning and another splendid performance from Teheran were enough to send the Braves to a 3-1 win at Turner Field, pushing their season-high winning streak to seven games and completing a three-game sweep of the reeling Mets.
Teheran (8-5) allowed four hits, one run and three walks with five strikeouts in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.29. His major league-leading home ERA actually rose from 1.22 to 1.23, which says plenty about how dominant he’s been in Atlanta, allowing one or no runs in seven of his nine starts including each of the past five.
With closer Craig Kimbrel resting after pitching three days in a row, Jordan Walden struck out two in a perfect ninth inning for his third save.
The Braves scored two or fewer runs while Teheran was in nine of his 17 starts before Wednesday, explaining his modest record despite an ERA that ranked fourth among National League starters.
And they scored two or fewer runs while he was in five of his previous eight home starts, hence a 2-1 home record before Wednesday, despite the microscopic home ERA. He’s had no decisions in home games in which he allowed no runs and three hits in eight innings, one run and one hit in eight innings, and four hits and one run in eight innings.
So when the Braves scored three in the first inning, it must’ve felt like an embarrassment of riches for their Colombian ace, who retired the first nine batters before Eric Young Jr.’s leadoff single in the fourth inning.
The Braves gave him that three-run lead without hitting a ball out of the park, continuing a recent trade. After collecting just 11 wins without a homer in their first 79 games, the Braves have five such wins in their past six games.
They loaded the bases with none out in the first against rookie Jacob deGrom, filling them with a leadoff single by B.J. Upton — extending his hitting streak to nine games — and consecutive walks by Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman.
When Justin Upton struck out and Jason Heyward flied out too shallow to tag up at third, it seemed the Braves might waste the opportunity like so many others earlier this season. But they’ve crafted a different narrative in those situations lately, and Johnson kept it going when he doubled past third baseman Eric Campbell’s back-handed fielding attempt.
Johnson’s hit, on a seven-pitch at-bat after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches, skipped toward the corner and Braves raced around the bases for a 3-0 lead.
Young’s leadoff single in the fourth provided the Mets with their first base runner. One popped-up bunt attempt, a walk and a wild pitch later, Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Braves’ lead to 3-1. Campbell the hit a hard one-hop single that caromed off Teheran’s right leg near the shin, and the pitcher was attended to by a Braves trainer.
Teheran said his leg stung a bit afterward, but he continued and got Lucas Duda to fly out to end the inning with two on.
Young also led off the sixth with a single, but was caught in a rundown after a pickoff by Teheran. Juan Lagares followed with a single before Teheran struck out Daniel Murphy, walked Granderson and struck out Campbell to end the inning.
DeGrom settled down after the first and allowed four hits and no walks over the rest of his five-inning stint. The only time the Braves had two runners on against him after the first inning came on consecutive two-out singles by Heyward and Johnson in the third inning. Tommy La Stella flied out a step in front of the warning track to end that threat.
The Braves failed to score after getting a runner at third with one out in the fifth. Simmons led off with an infield single, stole second and went to third on Freeman’s long fly out. DeGrom struck out Justin Upton and Heyward to end the inning.