Teheran sails through 7, but sloppy 8th inning sinks Braves

Julio Teheran of the Braves pitches against the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park on June 20, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Caption
Julio Teheran of the Braves pitches against the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park on June 20, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Julio Teheran sailed through seven innings and was well on his way to winning a fourth consecutive decision Tuesday. Then the eighth inning happened, one that Teheran and especially Dansby Swanson would probably like to forget as quickly as possible.

The Braves led 2-0 before Austin Slater’s three-run homer in the eighth inning, which came on the next pitch after Swanson dropped a throw to second base on a would-be force play. It was the first of three errors in a five-run inning that lifted the Giants to a 6-3 win, ending their seven-game losing skid and the Braves’ three-game winning streak.

“We just didn’t make enough plays in that inning is what it amounts to,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s hard when you give a major league team extra outs. That’s what happens is (they) put a crooked number up, and we can’t afford to do that.”

Teheran faced just 22 batters (one over the minimum) through seven innings, giving up two hits in that span and erasing the first of those runners by inducing a first-inning double-play grounder to end the first inning.

It was shaping up as one of his finest starts of the season, but ended with him taking a loss (6-5) and a pitching line that wasn’t all reflective of how he pitched for most of the night: 7 1/3 innings, six hits, four runs (three earned), no walks and two strikeouts.

“I’m happy with the way I was controlling the game,” Teheran said. “The last inning, something happened … but nothing that I can do. It’s part of the game. So it’s not really frustrating, just part of the game. Just got to look for the next one and see if I can do the same thing.”

Giants starter Matt Moore (3-7) had a majors-worst 9.24 road ERA and had posted an 11.08 ERA and .393 opponents’ average in his past three starts before Tuesday, when he limited the Braves to seven hits and three runs in seven innings.

Johan Camargo led the Braves with three hits – the rookie’s fourth consecutive multi-hit game — including an RBI triple in the third inning for the Braves’ first run. He scored on Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice fly in the inning for a 2-0 lead.

Camargo added a single and a seventh-inning double that put Braves on second and third before Teheran lined out to center to end the inning. But the Braves still had a seemingly safe two-run lead against a Giants team that had dropped 16 of its past 20 games and had the second-worst record in the majors.

But after Hunter Pence led off the Giants’ eighth inning with an infield hit, Brandton Belt hit a potential double-play grounder to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who didn’t field it cleanly but recovered and threw to second in plenty of time for the force. However, as Swanson went to catch it while gliding across second base, the ball squirted out of his glove before he ever controlled it.

The play was reviewed and the safe called upheld. And on Teheran’s next pitch, the rookie Slater pulled a three-run homer over the right-field fence, his second major league homer in his 15th game. A stunned crowd watched him circle the bases behind Pence and Belt as the Braves’ 2-0 lead became a 3-2 deficit in one swing.

“(Teheran) was really good,” Snitker said. “He was just dealing and that was a weird inning in the eighth. He gets a mis-hit ball, a double play ball. We didn’t execute enough in that inning, really, to get him out of it. I was hoping he would put the ball on the ground and get another double play. It was really just unfortunate because he threw so good.

“He maximized his pitches. He did a great job.”

Kelby Tomlinson followed the homer with an infield single that skipped off the end of Swanson’s glove before a sacrifice bunt by Moore.

Teheran was replaced by Ian Krol, who gave up an RBI single to Denard Span before fielding Joke Panik’s slow roller near the mound and throwing errantly to first base, putting two runners in scoring position with one out. Brandon Crawford followed with a grounder to first baseman Matt Adams, who made the third error of the inning when he threw high to second base, with Crawford credited with an RBI on the play to push the lead to 5-2.

Things could have gotten even worse for the Braves with Buster Posey coming to bat, but Jason Motte replaced Krol and got Posey to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Braves got a run in the eighth inning on Matt Kemp’s RBI ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field fence. But with runners at second and third and two outs in a two-run game, Adams popped out foul to the first baseman and Kurt Suzuki flied out.

“If the ball bounced off that wall there (instead of over for a ground-rule double) it might score another one,” Snitker said. “But the five-run eighth is the (difference). You can’t just give them extra outs and those add-on runs. Even after the three-run homer, we stop the bleeding there and we’ve got two chances and we are in pretty good shape in that game.”

Motte came back out to pitch the ninth and gave up a long one-out homer to Belt that moved the Giants’ lead back to three runs, 6-3.