Braves' Teheran shuts down Twins

Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Rookie Julio Teheran showed the form that made him the Atlanta Braves' most effective pitcher during spring training, and as a result, he nearly came away with his first career shutout.
Teheran allowed only one run in 8 1/3 innings, and the Braves won their fourth straight game Monday, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 at Turner Field. Teheran (3-1) allowed five hits, struck out four and walked one, losing the shutout when Josh Willingham tagged him for a home run with one out in the ninth.
"It was good for him to experience that ninth inning," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was good for him to dig deep in the gas tank."
Teheran had not allowed a hit since the fourth inning and had retired 15 of 16 batters when Willingham connected for his sixth home run. Teheran was removed after allowing a single to Trevor Plouffe, having thrown 123 pitches, 80 of them strikes.
"I tried to go out and make pitches and get deep in the game," Teheran said. "I got a little excited (in the ninth inning) but was trying to do what I did the whole game."
Teheran entered the game with an extra day of rest, and he will have another extra day before his next start, which is why Gonzalez wasn't hesitant to give his pitcher a chance to finish the game.
"I like that we struck him out there (in the ninth inning) in that territory to see what he could do," Atlanta catcher Gerald Laird said.
Teheran got offensive support for a change. He entered the game receiving only 2.7 runs of support in seven previous starts, but the Braves struck for four runs in the first inning and gave the right-hander plenty of breathing room.
"He mixed it up," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He used all his pitches and located it well. They jumped on us early, and he knew what to do with it."
Atlanta used two relievers to finish the game. Left-hander Luis Avilan allowed a hit but got one out, and right-hander Cory Gearrin retired pinch hitter Oswaldo Arcia on a foul fly to record his first save.
Minnesota starter Kevin Correia (4-4) lost for the third time in four starts, and the Twins dropped their sixth straight. Correia lasted only four innings, the first time this season he had failed to pitch five innings. He gave up a season-high five runs on eight hits.
"He was just out of whack," Gardenhire said. "They ambushed him early. Every time he made a mistake, they banged it."
The Braves scored four runs in the first inning. Freddie Freeman hit an RBI single to center field, and Dan Uggla followed one out later with a long three-run homer to left. It was Uggla's eighth home run, only the second with runners on base, and his first since he hit two homers May 8 at Cincinnati.
"That's definitely what you want to happen in the first inning," Uggla said. "We got them early, and Julio took care of the rest."
Atlanta tacked on another run in the fifth inning when Juan Francisco ended an 0-for-13 drought with a double. Francisco took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrelton Simmons.
Gonzalez and Teheran both credited Laird for calling an effective game. Laird has been working almost exclusively with Teheran since spring training, and the bond between them has grown strong.
"I think Gerald was more upset than Julio that he didn't get the complete game," Gonzalez said.
Teheran said he shook off his catcher on only two pitches all night. On one at-bat, Laird put down the same sign three times before Teheran finally threw it. The result was an out.
"I'm getting a good feeling what he likes to do," Laird said. "He's making my job easier. He's making adjustments and doing a good job."
NOTES: The Twins recalled LHP Caleb Thielbar and optioned LHP Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A Rochester. Thielbar had a 3.76 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the Red Wings. It is his first promotion to the major leagues. Hernandez (2-1, 5.85 ERA) appeared in eight games, six as a starter. ... Minnesota is playing its first regular-season series in Atlanta. ... Braves 3B Juan Francisco had struck out seven consecutive times before a first-inning single Monday. ... Atlanta LHP Eric O'Flaherty will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery Tuesday. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

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