Teheran pitches complete game with no earned runs…and Braves lose

ARLINGTON, Texas – In a span of five batters in the sixth inning, the Braves’ Julio Teheran went from throwing a no-hitter with a 2-0 lead to trailing 3-2 against the lowly Rangers.

All three runs were unearned after a two-out error by left fielder Justin Upton on a missed fly ball.

Oh, it was another excruciating day to be a Brave.

The Braves’ playoff push is starting to feel like another September swoon following Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Globe Life Park, which gave the Rangers their first consecutive home wins since June and assured the Braves of series losses at all three stops on a nine-game trip that ends Sunday.

“I just misplayed it,” Upton said of Leonys Martin’s fly ball that bounced off his glove with a runner on base in the sixth inning and the Braves ahead by two runs. “I make that play every day. It just hit off the heel of my glove.”

Elvis Andrus followed with an RBI single before Rougned Odor’s two-run double to the left-center gap for a 3-2 lead.

Teheran (13-12) was charged with three hits, three unearned runs and one walk with six strikeouts in eight innings for his fourth complete game of the season. He and Detroit’s David Price are the only major league pitchers to get a loss this season while allowing no earned runs in a complete game with no earned runs allowed.

“I was just trying to keep the lead and win the game, control what I could control,” Teheran said. “I don’t blame (Upton). It’s a difficult game and I know sometimes you’ve just got to understand that.”

It was arguably the worst loss of the season for a Braves team that’s had plenty of brutal ones to choose from, including a 2-1 defeat in Friday’s series opener.

“That (error) kept that inning going, and they split the gap and got two more,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves fell to 3 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh and two games behind Milwaukee in the race for the second and final National League wild-card spot, pending the outcome of the Pirates’ and Brewers’ games later Saturday.

“We’re human. People make errors. Nobody’s going to feel any worse than Justin,” Gonzalez said. “He’s coming in hard to try to get it, and it just bounced off his glove. I’m sure he’s at his locker now not feeling real good about it. You compound it when you’re not scoring many runs, it makes it even more glaring.”

Atlanta is 3-8 with four consecutive series losses in September, and must win Sunday to avoid being swept by a Rangers team that has the worst record in the majors (56-92) and had lost 11 of 12 games before the Braves came to town.

“At this point we’ve got to pick ourselves up,” Upton said. “We’ve just got to try to rally around what we can.”

It was the second time Teheran has taken a loss in a complete game this season. He allowed five hits and two runs in eight innings of a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on July 31, when Clayton Kershaw allowed nine hits and one run in nine innings.

After Alex Wood pitched seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball Friday and got no decision in a Braves loss, Teheran had even worse luck Saturday, with poor run support compounded by a defensive gaffe. The Braves have scored 27 runs in September, including one or no runs in six of 11 games.

“It’s a shame that the last couple of outings, Woody last night and today, we didn’t get a W,” Gonzales said. “Because those starting pitchers pitched very, very good baseball.”

Teheran faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings, allowing only a leadoff walk to Adam Rosales in the third inning in that inducing a double-play grounder by the next batter, Luis Sardinas. It was Sardina who would break up the no-hitter with a flare single to center with one out in the sixth.

“Teheran is an excellent pitcher,” Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar said. “He showed that. We didn’t have a lot of good swings on him. I think we hit one or two balls on the screws. The rest of the time, he dominated us.”

The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on three consecutive to-out hits by Emilio Bonifacio, Phil Gosselin and Freeman, with Gosselin singling in a run and Freeman doubling in another.

After Sardinas singled in the sixth, Leonys Martin hit a two-out fly ball to left field that bounced out of Upton’s glove as he ran in to make what would’ve been basically a routine play. There was some glare on a cloudy afternoon, and the interior structure of the stadium is poured concrete that’s white.

“Can’t use it as an excuse,” he said of the glare. “I mean, it’s bright and they’ve got the cement (white stadium interior structure). I had to hang back a second to let it come out of the bright visual. (But) I just misplayed it.”

The Rangers capitalized fully on the two-out error. Andrus, once a top Braves shortstop prospect, hit an opposite-field single through the right side of the infield to cut the lead to 2-1, and Odor followed with his two-run double.

Lisalverto Bonilla (1-0) got the win in his first major league start and third appearance, limiting the Braves to four hits and two runs in six innings, with four walks and three strikeouts.

Bonilla walked the first and third batters in both the first and fourth innings, and the Braves failed to convert any of those walks into runs. In the first inning, Gosselin grounded into a double play after Bonifacio’s leadoff walk, and Upton struck out after Freeman’s 2-out walk.

In the fourth inning, Chrisian Bethancourt grounded into a double play after Jason Heyward’s leadoff walk. After Tommy La Stella’s two-out walk and Andrelton Simmons’ single, Ramiro Pena popped out to strand both runners.

The Braves didn’t advance another runner past first base after the fourth inning.

“Gotta get hits, have good at-bats, get on base, whether it’s a walk or a base hit,” Upton said, “and we’ve got to get the big hit. That’s how it always has to work. We just haven’t been doing that, and our run production has kind of showed that.”

The injury-riddled Rangers had gone 19-57 since June 17 before winning the past two against the Braves, and now they’ll try to complete their first sweep since late April.