WASHINGTON -- As Julio Teheran digested the strong seven-inning effort he provided during Saturday afternoon's 13-0 Braves win over the Nationals, he deservedly praised the contributions made by Brandon Phillips, who spent the game's first few innings proving he still has some of those same skills that netted him four Gold Glove Awards.
"I told him he was all over the place," Teheran said. "He was making really good plays. They had my back out there and everybody was doing their part. That's a good sign."
Teheran certainly was impressive as he scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings and matched the season-best four-seam fastball average velocity (92.4 mph) he produced last weekend in Oakland. But as he lowered his road ERA to 2.53, he got plenty of assistance from the 36-year-old Phillips, who credited an increase in mobility and range to an acupuncture treatment he had Friday night to alleviate some left quad discomfort.
"I'm just glad I made the plays," Phillips said. "I got an acupuncture [Friday] and they did a lot of treatment on my leg. I've been playing with a leg injury since [a late April series in] New York. I've found a way to do that. I'm looking forward to this All-Star break, so I can at least be closer to a hundred percent. If it wasn't for what I did [Friday] night, I probably wouldn't have made those plays."
Phillips got warmed up as he snared Brian Goodwin's grounder to begin the bottom of the first. It was a rather routine play, but essential considering Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman followed with consecutive singles. The veteran second baseman's first influential defensive gem was completed in the second, when he took a couple quick steps to his right to snare Jose Lobaton's two-out grounder, which had a 100.7-mph exit velocity and a 60 percent hit probability, per Statcast™.
"[Phillips] was all over the place," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I told him one time it feels like every inning I was giving him a high-five for diving plays."
Freddie Freeman committed his first error as a third baseman when he was unable to handle Goodwin's one-out grounder in the third. Harper followed with a walk, but both were left stranded when Phillips squashed the Nationals' best scoring threat by diving to his right to make an airborne grab of a Daniel Murphy liner that had a 100.2-mph exit velocity and a 79 percent hit probability.
"It's no surprise," Braves right fielder Nick Markakis said. "We know how he is and we know what he's capable of doing. He showed that today. Those were a couple big plays right there. You can't give these guys multiple opportunities with guys on base because that's when they'll hurt you."
Phillips strained his left groin during the late April road series against the Mets and cautiously played through the injury. Over the past couple of weeks, the discomfort started to affect his quad, which in turn affected his mobility and what he could provide defensively.
"I don't like to make excuses, but that's why I'm looking forward to the break to get a lot more treatment, so you all can see the real Brandon Phillips," Phillips said. "You saw him at the beginning [of the season] and then you've seen bits and pieces throughout the first half. But I'm looking forward to the rest of the year to see what I can really do."