Once the Braves realized this wasn’t Cole Hamels circa 2009, they batted around on their old National League East adversary.
Julio Teheran out-dueled former Phillies ace Cole Hamels, and the Braves used a five-run second inning – and nothing more - to defeat the Rangers 5-4 in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
The Braves finish with a 9-11 interleague record, avoiding being swept by Texas for the first time since 2014 (their last meeting).
The second inning saw the Braves do damage to Hamels they rarely could when he anchored the Philadelphia rotation. Hamels, who entered the game with a 3.92 ERA, allowed five runs to the Braves for just the fifth time in 35 starts.
“Just capitalized on some mistakes,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “Just stayed the course. These American League lineups, there’s never any letup in them. They just keep coming at you. They don’t put the ball on the ground very often.”
Hamels hadn’t faced the Braves since 2015 as a Phillie (a seven-inning shutout performance). Entering Wednesday, he had a 1.05 ERA his last six times opposing the Braves. His 16 wins against Atlanta is tied for his most against any opponent (Washington).
Nick Markakis started and ended the explosive second frame. Hamels walked Markakis, hit Kurt Suzuki then Dansby Swanson singled in the game’s first run. Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor dropped Hamels’ throw to second on a Teheran bunt, which allowed Suzuki to score on an error.
Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies singled to load the bases, and Freddie Freeman drove two home with a double off the wall that Rangers centerfielder Delino DeShields appeared to have thought was gone.
It was the 15th time this season the Braves have scored five or more runs in an inning. The Braves were averaging 4.6 runs per game entering Wednesday.
With singles in both games Wednesday, Albies has hit safely in 17 of his last 20 contests after going 8-for-47 (.170) in his first 14 games. Swanson has had similar success, registering a hit in 21 of his last 26 games.
The Rangers got two back on a Nomar Mazara homer to right field. It was the 30th homer conceded by Teheran, tied for seventh-most in the majors. He’s the fourth Atlanta pitcher to allow as many, and first since Chuck James allowed 32 long balls in 2007.
To Teheran’s credit, he’s improved in that department. Mazara’s shot was the second home run he’d allowed in the last five starts. Teheran has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his last 12 starts dating back to June 2.
He finished five innings allowing three runs, despite five walks.
“I feel really good,” Teheran said. “It’s good to have the offense so you can relax a little bit. I knew that I was facing a good team, and they made me throw a lot of pitches. ... I think overall it was good. I had to battle and that’s part of the game.”
“Julio hung in there,” Snitker said. “Bent, didn’t break. ... He competes. Sometimes he just works really hard. Probably a good thing he had some extra rest there, had a little bit more left in the tank.”
Texas inched closer in the fifth, with Mazara scoring off Carlos Gomez’s double. Swanson’s relay throw was slightly off-target, contributing to Suzuki barely missing the tag. Teheran issued back-to-back walks to load the bases, but forced Robinson Chirinos to pop-out to Albies.
Will Middlebrooks tripled off A.J. Minter to open the sixth. Hamels brought him home to make it a one-run game. Sam Freeman retired four batters before being switched out for Jose Ramirez. Chirinos doubled, but was tagged out trying to advance to third.
Third baseman Johan Camargo fielded a grounder, throwing it to second trying to catch Chirinos in a rundown rather than taking the sure out at first. Albies saved what looked to be a poor decision by firing a dart back to Carmargo at third to catch Chirinos.
Turns out, Albies saw Chirinos drifting and yelled at Camargo to throw to second.
“I saw Chirinos taking off, and I screamed at Camargo, I think I surprised him,” Albies said. “And then he threw it. Just made an adjustment and threw back (to third).”
Arodys Vizcaino came on for the save, and patroled his way through a two-on, two-out threat to notch his 10th save in 12 chances. He’s converted all eight saves since taking over the closer job on July 30 (2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings).
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