For the second straight game – against the best team in baseball – the Braves’ bats supported a quality performance from their starting pitcher.
On Saturday night, Julio Teheran was the beneficiary.
The Braves supported their ace with just enough runs en route to a 4-3 victory over the A’s Saturday night at Turner Field. The win came one night after the Braves’ used four home runs in a 7-2 victory for Alex Wood.
The Braves (63-60) needed the victory to remain six games behind the Nationals in the National League East. The Nationals erased a three-run deficit in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Pirates. The results move the Braves to 1-1/2 games behind the Giants for the second wildcard spot.
The Braves move to 5-4 on the 10-game homestand against three first-place teams. The series against the A’s concludes with Sunday night’s nationally televised game.
Teheran (11-9, 3.05 ERA) pitched six innings for the victory. He allowed just four hits and two runs, those coming on a home run.
Chris Johnson had three hits and two RBIs for the Braves, who won for the fifth time in the past 17 games. They are now 11-17 since the All-Star break and managed to keep the Nationals in their sight after dropping 3 of 4 games against the Dodgers in their previous series.
The A’s (73-50) hold the best record in the major leagues.
The Braves scored twice in the first inning. Phil Gosselin singled to center and Freddie Freeman brought him home with a hard-pulled double down the right-field line. It was Freeman’s 17th hit in 34 at-bats (.500) over the past 10 games. One out later, Johnson singled home Freeman.
The Braves added a run in the fourth with three singles, the third being a knock by Andrelton Simmons to score Justin Upton.
The A’s rallied with two runs in the sixth courtesy of a Stephen Vogt two-out, two-run homer off Teheran.
Johnson singled home Upton from first base with this third hit in the sixth to push the Braves’ lead to 4-2. It would prove to be valuable insurance.
John Jaso homered off Jordan Walden in the eighth to get the A’s back within a run. However, Craig Kimbrel closed the door with his 36th save. Josh Reddick took a Kimbrel offering to the warning track to lead off the ninth inning but Upton caught it with his back to the left field wall.
Teheran picked off Josh Reddick in the first inning. It was the third pickoff for the right-hander in his previous 10 innings pitched. Only left-hander Madison Bumgarner (14) has more pickoffs that Teheran (13) over the past two seasons. No other right-hander during that span has more than six.