Julio Teheran further proved why so much was made of his prospect status in Monday's opener with the Minnesota Twins. Teheran put together the best start of his young career in an Atlanta Braves 5-1 win at Turner Field.
Teheran went 8 1/3 innings and threw 122 pitches, both career highs, coming just two outs short of his first career shutout.
"I knew I was throwing a shutout, and I wanted to get it," Teheran said on braves.com. "When they saw my face and that I wanted to go out there, they just sent me."
The only run Teheran gave up came on a solo homer by Josh Willingham with one out in the ninth. He was pulled after giving up a single to Trevor Plouffe in favor of Luis Avilan. Avilan lasted only one batter after giving up a hit to Chris Parmalee, giving Cory Gearrin a chance to record the final two outs and the first save of his career.
Teheran's start allowed Atlanta to rest their injury-depleted, shorthanded bullpen, which just lost Eric O'Flaherty for the year to Tommy John surgery and is carrying only six men at the moment. He entered the ninth with 109 pitches, but Fredi Gonzalez explained that he had an extra day of rest going into this start and going into his next start.
"I think it was good for him to experience that in the ninth inning," Gonzalez said. "He had an extra day going into that start, and he'll have an extra day going out of that start, so we took that into consideration. And it was good for him to dig deep down in the gas tank and see if he could do it, and by God, he gave it a good shot."
After giving up at least four runs in each of his first three starts, Teheran has a 2.41 ERA in his last four starts.
The Braves aided Teheran's cause by throwing up four runs in the first inning on Twins starter Kevin Correia. That inning was punctuated by a three-run homer by Dan Uggla, and it was the first time the Braves had scored first since May 7.
"The first-inning homer felt great," Uggla said. "It was like, 'Woo, finally a hit.' What was really positive for me was how I felt in my last three at-bats. I didn't get any more hits. But I felt great."
After having one hit in his last seven games, Uggla switched a bigger bat, which may have contributed to being able to wait on pitches better.
Juan Francisco also hit a double in the fourth that led to a sacrifice fly. He entered 0-for-his-last-13 with 10 strikeouts going back to May 9.
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