Giants manager Bruce Bochy has about another week to decide who will start for the National League in the All-Star game. Jair Jurrjens made a pretty decent case Friday night against a team from the American League.
He pitched a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win against the Orioles at Turner Field, coming eight outs shy of a no-hitter, and took sole possession of the NL lead in wins with 11.
“It would be an honor, but it’s up to him,” Jurrjens said of a potential start in Phoenix on July 12.
Jurrjens lines up for it. His next start is Wednesday against the Rockies, then he would be on five days’ rest for the following Tuesday.
“This was a pretty good performance that hopefully gets the attention to give him an opportunity to at least be on the team,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
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Jurrjens no-hit the Orioles for 6 1/3 innings. He allowed only a leadoff walk to Mark Reynolds in the sixth inning and a one-out single to Adam Jones in the seventh.
Jurrjens threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the first 15 batters he faced and 20 of 29 in the game, keeping his pitch count low and giving him a shot at only the second complete game of his career. He went nine innings, allowing two runs in an April 26 win in San Diego.
He had 101 pitches through eight, but Gonzalez had no qualms about letting him pitch the ninth.
“[Pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] came up to me and said ‘You’ve got the ninth,’” Jurrjens said. “I had a feeling. I wanted this game. Today I felt really good, and I wanted to go the whole way.”
He drew applause from a crowd of 33,261 when he came out to pitch the ninth and rewarded them with a perfect inning. He finished with 112 pitches, 77 for strikes. He struck out a season-high eight batters.
“Since I had my slider the first inning, I knew ‘I’m going to have my stuff today,’” Jurrjens said. “The slider was really good. I was able to backdoor it on lefties and throw it in the dirt for righties, and it made it a little easy when you have all your pitches working.”
He worked both sides of the plate like he was trying to make Orioles hitters dizzy. Jurrjens coaxed 19 outs from the first 20 batters he faced before Jones chopped a single up the middle past a diving Dan Uggla behind second base.
“Ah, a bouncer,” Jurrjens said. “... You prefer to give up a line drive off the wall, but every win for us right now is really big. We want to have a good start in the second half and start pushing for the playoffs.”
His effort made it look all the more like wishful thinking the day before when an espn.com blog relayed speculation from unnamed opposing executives, who wondered if the Braves might consider trading Jurrjens at the deadline.
“We’re in this to keep our team intact and add to it ...,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said before Friday night’s game. “So that’s not a likely scenario. ... It’s nothing we’ve discussed.”
Jurrjens won his third consecutive start to improve to 11-3. He’s only three wins shy of his career-high 14 of 2009. His majors-leading ERA is down to 1.89. He and Jered Weaver of the Angels (1.97) are the only qualified starters with ERAs under 2.00.
Jurrjens moved past the Phillies’ Roy Halladay (10-3) for the NL lead in wins. He became the first Brave since Tom Glavine in 2002 to win 11 times in 15 or fewer starts. He has allowed two or fewer runs in 13 of those 15 starts.
Jurrjens used a two-run homer run from Jason Heyward in the sixth inning — Heyward’s first since April 29 — to get all the support he needed.
Jeremy Guthrie had matched Jurrjens with five scoreless innings, allowing only two base runners himself before Jordan Schafer broke through with a one-out single in the sixth. That brought up Heyward who let loose on an 0-1 fastball.
“It was awesome to have Jordan on first base to set the table right there to get some fastballs,” Heyward said.
Heyward’s rope of a shot to right center field was the kind of punishment he hadn’t unleashed on a ball in months. He had gone 104 at-bats, 32 games and 3 1/2 weeks on the disabled list since his previous home run.
“I know I can’t get it all back in one day or one series,” said Heyward, who hit seven homers in April. “I’ve just got to keep making progress and I think I’ve done that so far.”
Heyward also caught one of three hard hit balls off Jurrjens in the game in the second inning. Another one found the outstretched glove of Nate McLouth, who made a fourth-inning catch that had the look of the “highlight” defensive play made in a no-hitter.