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Teheran comes of age in Braves' win

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The maturation of rookie pitcher Julio Teheran continued on Thursday.

The right-hander matched his career best with 11 strikeouts and added two hits as the Atlanta Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 11-2 to complete a four-game sweep and extend their winning streak to seven games.

"I was trying to make my pitch," Teheran said. "I was using my four-seamer. It felt good coming out of my hand."

Teheran (8-5) struck out the side three times and escaped from two bases-loaded situations with only one run scoring. The right-hander gave up five hits and one run over five innings and left after throwing 103 pitches.

"Julio wasn't as sharp as he's been, but he battled," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

A big moment came in the first inning when the Rockies loaded the bases with one out, despite not getting the ball out of the infield. Teheran responded by striking out Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado to end the threat.

"I think he just got upset and elevated his game," Gonzalez said. "He blew it by some pretty good hitters."

The Atlanta hitters gave Teheran plenty of support for a change with 14 hits. That's unusual for Teheran, who is given an average of 2.9 runs per game. In the seven games on the homestand, the Braves produced 84 hits and 51 runs.

"If I told you I knew what it was, I'd be lying," Gonzalez said. "We're just seeing it right now. Hopefully that will continue."

Atlanta right fielder Justin Upton had two homers, Nos. 17 and 18, and drove in five runs. It's the second multi-homer game this season for Upton and the sixth of his career.

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson went 3-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and improve his league-leading average to .346.

Colorado rookie Chad Bettis (0-1) allowed five runs and six hits over five innings to lose his major league debut. Despite the loss, manager Walt Weiss liked what he saw from the young right-hander.

"He got a ball up that got hit out early," Weiss said. "But there's a lot to like ... a lot of power and a lot of poise. He's got plenty of stuff, but their lineup is as hot as you can get and we didn't get away with anything."

The Braves jumped on Bettis for two runs in the first inning. Upton hit a 400-foot two-run home run to center field, his first since July 9 at Miami.

The Rockies got a run back in the second inning. On the 10th pitch of his at-bat, Corey Dickerson hit a long fly that Upton caught near the right field fence, scoring Charlie Blackmon.

Teheran helped himself with an RBI double in the second inning. Andrelton Simmons led off with a single and Teheran sliced a fly into right that Blackmon could not catch, giving the pitcher his second double and second RBI of the year.

The Braves stretched their lead to 5-1 in the fourth on Jason Heyward's two-run homer, his 10th.

Colorado scored a run to make it 5-2 on Jonathan Herrera's single off reliever Luis Avilan in the seventh. The Rockies had the tying run at the plate, but Wilin Rosario grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

It doesn't get any easier for the Rockies, who travel to N.L. Central leading Pittsburgh for three games.

"There's no magic formula," Weiss said. "We go in and play the game hard, play the game right and give it your best shot."

Atlanta extended its lead in the N.L East to 11 ½ games and embarks on a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and Washington.

"It's been a nice little run," Upton said. "We clicked this homestand. You hope it's the start of something good."

NOTES: Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki was ejected for contesting a called strikeout in the second inning. Umpire Marvin Hudson told Weiss that "he argued balls and strikes too long." ... To make room for Bettis on the roster, the Rockies optioned veteran LHP Jeff Francis to Triple-A Colorado Springs and designated RHP Josh Sullivan for assignment. ... Colorado was short-handed in the outfield: Carlos Gonzalez (injured finger) did not play but said he did not want to be placed on the 15-day disabled list, and Michael Cuddyer returned home because of an undisclosed family situation. The shortage of players forced Weiss to use pitcher Tyler Chatwood as a pinch-hitter. ... The start on Thursday's game was delayed nine minutes by rain. ... Clint Fagan was called in to replace injured umpire Marty Foster, who was hit by a pitch on his left forearm Wednesday and had to leave the game. Fagan worked at third base.

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