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The Grand Slam: Braves reclaim first place behind Julio Teheran's big night

There's one day left in May and the Miami Marlins are not only relevant in the NL East, they're battling the Atlanta Braves for the division lead. The two teams entered Friday tied for the top spot, but it's the Braves who own sole possession after edging out Miami, 3-2.

Right-hander Julio Teheran did the heavy lifting for Atlanta, allowing two runs over seven and one-third innings, which actually raised his ERA to 1.83. The only blemish came on Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer in the first. He also chipped in at the plate with two hits and scored the tying run on Jason Heyward's triple in the seventh inning.

''I felt I had to start a rally, and just tried to put the ball in play,'' Teheran said. ''I think that was the biggest play of the game.''

The Braves trailed 2-0 in the sixth inning but rallied to break a four-game losing streak.

''I know we've been losing,'' Teheran said. ''It's nice to do my job and help the team.''

Atlanta's bullpen also did its job. Three relievers combined to hold on to the slim one run lead. Coming off a tough loss Thursday night in Boston, Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances.

One Brave who didn't do his job though is Freddie Freeman. He went hitless in the game and remains hitless against Miami this season in 28 at-bats. He's only forgiven because he's hitting .347 against the rest of the majors.

ASTROS STAY HOT WITH 7TH STRAIGHT WIN: The baseball world is upside down. The Marlins are alive and well and the Houston Astros are surging in the AL West after winning their seventh in a row on Friday night. It wasn't the George Springer show this time. Instead, struggling shortstop Jonathan Villar snapped an 0-for-26 slump with a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning, which ultimately held up in their 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Jose Altuve broke it up with an infield single on a bang-bang play at first base. Houston finally broke through in the run column in the seventh thanks to doubles from Matt Dominguez, Robbie Grossman and Villar.

It was another special night for the Astros and special night all around as MLB held its eighth annual Civil Rights game. Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman handled the ceremonial first pitch duties. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Berry Gordy, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown and the late Maya Angelou were honored in a pregame ceremony for their contributions to the civil rights movement.

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

NO HISTORY FOR BECKETT: The drama was over early as Josh Beckett attempted to match Johnny Vander Meer's MLB record by pitching back-to-back no-hitters. Pirates catcher Russell Martin officially broke it up with a clean single with one out in the second inning. Beckett was just OK from that point on, allowing two earned runs on five hits over five total innings. He walked one batter, hit another and struck out five, but took the loss as the Dodgers fell 3-2.

ROYALS SILENCE ENCARNACION, OUTSLUG BLUE JAYS: Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion tied the AL record for home runs in May with 16 after slugging two against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. On Friday, the Royals did the yard work, connecting for their 23rd and 24th home runs as a team this season during their 6-1 victory

Lorenzo Cain paced the offense with three hits, including a two-run eighth inning homer, and matched a career high with four RBIs. Alex Gordon reached base three times and added a solo homer in support of Jason Vargas, who improved to 5-2 on the season.

As for Encarnacion, the Royals decided he wasn't going to beat them or establish a new mark at their expense. At least not on Friday. They pitched him very carefully, walking him three times and retiring him twice. That resulted in a very quiet night for Toronto's offense and the birth of a two-game losing streak following their season best nine-game winning streak.

Encarnacion will have one more shot at the MLB record for May home runs on Saturday. That record is currently held by Barry Bonds, who hit 17 in 2001. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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