Big inning helps Braves salvage DH split with Rangers
ATLANTA — No one was happier to see that five-run second inning go up on the Atlanta scoreboard than Braves’ ace Julio Teheran.
The right-hander, who was only 2-9 at home, was staked to the early lead and made it stand up. Teheran, along with four Atlanta relievers, combined for a 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers in the nightcap of a doubleheader at SunTrust Park.
“We had the offense early in the game,” Teheran said. “Always it’s good to have that offense.”
Texas won the first game Wednesday 12-8.
Freddie Freeman’s two-run double highlighted the five-run second inning in the second game. Freeman was 1-for-4 in that game and finished 3-for-7 for the doubleheader as the Braves salvaged one game of the three-game interleague series.
Teheran (10-11) pitched five innings and allowed three runs on five hits and a season-high five walks. He struck out three.
“He was working really hard to get through that inning,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good to see him never give in.”
Teheran said, “I know I was facing a really good team. Obviously, I don’t want to give in or make a mistake. I think overall I was good. I had to battle. That’s part of the game.”
The Rangers closed the gap to 5-4 in the sixth when Will Middlebrooks led off with a pinch-hit triple off reliever A.J. Minter and scored on Cole Hamels’ grounder to second base. Middlebrooks became the first player in major league history to record a pinch-hit triple in both games of a doubleheader.
“Our guys continued to stay engaged, continued to battle,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “We just came up short. It’s a challenge to sweep a doubleheader.”
Texas was trying to sweep a day-night doubleheader for the first time in nine tries.
Atlanta’s Sam Freeman pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and Jose Ramirez got two outs in the eighth for his 25th hold. Arodys Vizcaino allowed two hits in the ninth but retired Joey Gallo on a flyout to end the game and pick up his 10th save.
Hamels (9-3) pitched six innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. After allowing all five runs in the second inning, Hamels retired nine consecutive batters and gave up just one hit and one walk in his final four innings.
The Braves sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times in the second inning. Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte both drove in a run with singles, Kurt Suzuki scored on a throwing error by Hamels, and Freeman launched a two-run double that almost left the park.
“It was a situation in the second inning where he kind of lost a little bit of command with the secondary stuff,” Banister said. “He just couldn’t find the range with the soft stuff.”
Hamels said, “When I get two strikes for some reason I can’t locate a pitch in a better area where I can at least get a punchout or a weak groundball or weak flyball. Get behind a guy and come all the way back and know what pitch will get the job done and I can’t execute the pitch. That’s the very frustrating part.”
The Rangers cut the deficit to 5-2 in the third on Nomar Mazara’s two-run homer, his 18th.
Texas added a run in the fifth when Carlos Gomez doubled to dead center field over the head of Inciarte, allowing Mazara to beat the relay to the plate.
In the first game of the twinbill, Elvis Andrus went 4-for-5 and hit his 20th home run to spark a team-best nine extra-base hits. Mike Napoli clubbed his 29th homer. Austin Bibens-Dirxx (5-2) earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
Atlanta rookie Luiz Gohara (0-1) lasted four innings and allowed six runs in his major league debut. Inciarte went 4-for-5 and hit his 11th homer, and Matt Kemp hit his 17th home run.
Both teams have completed interleague play. The Rangers finished 15-5 against the National League. The Braves finished 9-11 against the American League.
NOTES: Texas C Robinson Chirinos doubled in his first at-bat of the second game and extended his on-base streak to 22 games. ... Atlanta C Kurt Suzuki was hit by a pitch for the 11th time, second on the club behind fellow C Tyler Flowers with 18. Texas CF Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch for the 19th time, matching his career high. ... Texas RF Nomar Mazara left the second game in the sixth inning with tightness in his left quad. Mazara seemed to struggle while scoring on a double in the fifth inning. ... Texas LF Delino DeShields was hitless in the nightcap and saw his streak of reaching base in consecutive games end at 19. ... Atlanta begins a four-game series with Miami on Thursday. ... Texas returns home to start a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Friday.