Given that the Braves mustered just four hits and one run against Kevin Correia – who is a Dodger now, if you didn’t know — it would have taken one of Julio Teheran’s finest performances to give the home team much chance of winning Monday.
Teheran was crisp through five, but the Dodgers peppered him for three runs on five singles and fielding mistake in the sixth inning, then things deteriorated rapidly in a three-run eighth.
The Dodgers beat the punchless, sloppy Braves 6-2 in the opener of a four-game series before a small crowd (20,053) at Turner Field, their 10th loss in 12 games. The Braves didn’t score their second run until two out in the ninth inning on Evan Gattis’ RBI double.
The Dodgers capitalized in the eighth on two walks and an error (shortstop Ramiro Pena), and the ugly inning wasn’t over before a wild pitch by reliever Juan Jaime and a passed ball by Gattis that allowed a runner to reach base on a strikeout.
Teheran (10-9) was charged with nine hits and five runs in 7 1/3 innings, the first time he allowed more than three earned runs all season at Turner Field. The All-Star is 2-4 with a 5.24 ERA in his past seven starts, and this was his first home loss in that stretch.
The third run against him scored when the Braves botched a potential double-play grounder in the sixth inning, and two more runs charged to Teheran scored after he left the game, including one on a Carl Crawford single against reliever James Russell.
The recently acquired Braves left-hander has been far more effective against right-handed hitters this season, but so far Russell has been used by the Braves as a conventional lefty specialist facing left-handed batters.
The Braves had to feel fortunate to learn they would miss both Dodgers aces, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, in a four-game series. But cast-offs and kids just up from the minors have also given the Braves fits in recent years, and it happened again.
Correia, a 12-year veteran acquired Saturday from Minnesota in a trade for a player to be named later, pitched like the All-Star he was a few years ago rather than the guy who was 5-13 with an ERA just below 5.00 for a Twins team that plays home games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
The right-hander retired the first nine batters and limited the Braves to four hits and one run in six innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. He won for just the second time in his past nine starts and matched his season low for hits allowed.
Braves hitters were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position against him, continuing a trend that’s dogged them most of the season and undermined them throughout a winless eight-game road trip that ended Wednesday at Seattle.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after Emilio Bonifacio hit a leadoff single and advanced on Pena’s sacrifice bunt. After Freddie Freeman walked, Justin Upton singled up the middle to drive in the run. Upton worked an eight-pitch at-bat, fouling off a full-count pitch before hitting a sharp single, with the speedy Bonifacio running on the pitch.
Teheran had allowed just three singles through five innings and no Dodger had reached second base, but in the sixth it was death by 1,000 paper cuts. Or, rather, four ground-ball hits, one well-struck single and a fielding mistake.
Correia led off the sixth with a ground-ball single, the second hit of the night for a pitcher who hadn’t forgot how to hit since his decade with the Giants, Padres and Pirates. Dee Gordon followed with a single through the right side, and Yasiel Puig lined a single to left field – the only hard-hit ball of the inning – to load the bases with none out.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a soft single to right to drive in the tying run, the fourth hit to start the inning. After Matt Kemp popped out to the shortstop, Crawford beat out an infield hit up the first-base line that put the Dodgers ahead 2-1.
The bases were still loaded with one out, and the Braves had a chance to get out of the inning when Teheran induced a potential double-play grounder by Justin Turner. Second baseman Bonifacio dropped the ball after fielding it, and had to settle for one out at second base as the third run of the inning scored.
Bonifacio moved over from shortstop in the second inning when second baseman Tommy La Stella left the game with a hamstring cramp. La Stella was trying to reach a ground-ball single by Crawford, who would be picked off first base by Teheran.
Puig had a leadoff single in the fourth inning, but Teheran picked him off, too. Teheran faced only one batter over the minimum through four innings despite allowing three singles and getting no double plays.
Teheran came in with majors’ second-best home ERA (1.48) and sixth-best home opponents’ average (.191), and was 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his previous seven home starts. He had allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of 11 home starts before Monday.
For complete write-thru version of this story including postgame quotes, go to MyAJC.com or use this link.