The few fans who came to Turner Field had watch the inglorious return of the Braves had barely settled in when Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon homered against Julio Teheran to lead off the game.
For the skeptics among them it must have had that familiar feeling of Braves failure. It would be another rough beginning for Teheran, another listless response from the lineup and another Braves loss.
But it was nothing like that. Teheran shook off the slow start and had a strong outing, and the Braves powered to a 5-3 victory against the Rockies to snap their season-long losing streak at seven games.
“It was nice to get a win,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It seemed like a long, long time. Seven games is a long time to get a win. It was nice. Hopefully we can get rolling here at home and get some more victories.”
After losing three games at the San Diego Padres and four at the Chicago Cubs, the Braves welcomed the return to Turner Field for a nine-game homestand. They are 33-24 at home and play 25 of their final 38 games at home including Monday’s victory.
Teheran gave up two home runs early and then dominated while pitching 7 1/3 innings and allowing four hits and three runs. The Braves gave him leads with home runs by Jonny Gomes in the first inning and Adonis Garcia in the fourth, and then added on two more runs in the later innings.
“It takes two,” Gomes said. “It takes Julio to settle down, and us to answer.”
It seemed to be an ominous sign for Teheran and the Braves when Blackmon led off with the home run. Most of Teheran’s worst starts have featured ugly innings early in games, and the Braves aren’t equipped to slug their way to victory.
Teheran compiled a 5.76 ERA in the first innings of his previous 25 starts. The Braves have hit the fewest home runs and had scored the fewest runs in the majors.
But Teheran recovered and the Braves showed some power. Teheran had his longest outing since he pitched 7 1/3 innings on June 6 against Pittsburgh Pirates and the Braves hit multiple home runs in a game for just the third time since July 11.
Gomes answered Blackmon’s homer with a two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning. Rockies outfielder Ben Paulsen, a Kell High product, tied the game with a home run to lead off the second inning.
After that, Teheran retired the next eight batters he faced and allowed just two base runners in the third through seventh innings.
“Whenever you get the lead, that’s when you feel more comfortable and more confident,” Teheran said. “Even when they tied the game in the second inning, I was concentrating and really focused and I knew (my teammates) were going to give the lead back to me.”
Garcia put the Braves ahead 3-2 with a home run in the fourth inning. After Cameron Maybin doubled to lead off the fifth, Gomes hit a go-ahead RBI single to score him. The Braves scored in the sixth inning when Pedro Ciriaco reached on a bunt single, went to second on Teheran’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a double by Nick Markakis for a 5-2 lead.
Pinch hitter Matt McBride chased Teheran with a one-out single in the eighth, leaving it to the Braves’ bullpen. Blackmon singled against Ross Detwiler, who gave way to Edwin Jackson.
After Jose Reyes grounded out to Jackson and the runners advanced, Brandon Barnes singled to score McBride (a run charged to Teheran). Blackmon tried to score from second base but left fielder Michael Bourn threw him out at the plate, a call that was confirmed on replay review.
Arodys Vizcaino pitched a perfect ninth inning for his fourth save.
“At this point, a win is a win,” Gomes said. “You can’t lose the value of slapping hands with each other when the game is over. That’s what it’s all about.”