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Snitker's gamble pays off as Braves top Cards

With Teheran cruising, skipper shows trust in offense, bullpen to bring home win
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- It was the kind of decision managers are paid to make.

With one out and two on in the top of the seventh in a scoreless game Friday, Braves manager Brian Snitker gambled on his offense and a bullpen that has been shaky of late. The maneuver paid off in Atlanta's 5-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- It was the kind of decision managers are paid to make.

With one out and two on in the top of the seventh in a scoreless game Friday, Braves manager Brian Snitker gambled on his offense and a bullpen that has been shaky of late. The maneuver paid off in Atlanta's 5-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

Up to that point, Braves starter Julio Teheran had been dominant. Teheran had allowed just two hits and two walks over six innings, striking out four, including the side in the fifth. At one point, Teheran (6-5) retired 15 of 16 batters.

Video: ATL@STL: Teheran strikes out 4 over 6 shutout frames

"I think my fastball is right there," Teheran said. "I'm glad that I have my fastball back … I'm working more on commanding my fastball and commanding my other pitches and whenever I do that I get good results."

But Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas matched him out for out. Of the seven hits Mikolas (8-3) allowed, only three left the infield.

Video: ATL@STL: Mikolas tosses 6 1/3 innings of 1-run ball

After Johan Camargo reached on an infield hit and Dansby Swanson singled in the seventh, Snitker went for the offense in summoning pinch-hitter Danny Santana to bat for Teheran. Santana promptly singled to load the bases with one out.

"I just feel like once you get down to the seventh, you're down to outs," Snitker said. "I had the option of bunting [Teheran] right there. I just kind of felt like after he came off in the sixth that he had done his job."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny then went to his bullpen, but lefty reliever Austin Gomber's first pitch hit Ender Inciarte to score the first run of the game. Mike Mayers took over for Gomber and got out of the jam without any further damage.

Atlanta tacked on three more in the eighth to blow it open. Camargo's two-run double capped a 3-for-4 night, and he later scored on a Swanson single.

Video: ATL@STL: Camargo plates 2 with a double in the gap

"We just have a team that I feel competes every day," Camargo said through an interpreter. "Each player in the lineup is going to battle."

Teheran's performance was in stark contrast to his last time out, a 7-5 Braves loss to the Orioles in which he gave up a grand slam before recording a single out.

"He did a great job getting ahead," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "Strike one was big for him. It's big for any pitcher, but especially for him. It gives him a lot of options to go to different places and different areas to set up pitches for later in the at-bats."

The Braves' bullpen, which has blown six saves in June, finished what Teheran started. Five relievers combined to give up just one run in the final three innings, culminated by Dan Winkler earning his first MLB save.

Video: ATL@STL: Winkler K's Bader to earn 1st career save

The win was a good start to a rugged nine-game road trip for the Braves, all against teams with winning records.

"It's going to be a rough ride," Snitker said. "But it was really good how we kind of stuck after it tonight. The bullpen guys picked each other up, and it was a good ballgame."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Teheran walked the first two batters he faced to start the game, but Ronald Acuna Jr.'s catch of a hard line drive off the bat of Jose Martinez gave him a needed out. Teheran then found his rhythm, getting a groundout and a flyout from Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to escape the jam.

"First two or three batters, I was kind of wondering if [Teheran] was going to make it through," Snitker said. "Then he just kind of righted himself and was sharp, efficient. His stuff was really good, on the attack, the whole thing. Once we got that first out in the first inning, it was really good."

Matheny said getting out of that early jam changed the game.

"You look through the first 10-11 batters, we had some balls squared up," Matheny said. "You find the outfield grass, we probably have some damage early on. We did have a bit of an opportunity early, but then he did find that rhythm and really started mixing in the off-speed pitches that had our guys off-balance the rest of the way. He made pitches. That's all there is to it."

SOUND SMART
Ozzie Albies extended his season-high nine-game hitting streak with an infield single in the ninth. It was the Braves' fifth hit of the game that didn't leave the infield. Albies eventually scored on a Nick Markakis sacrifice fly.

Video: ATL@STL: Markakis drives in Albies with a sac fly

INJURY UPDATE
On a steamy night in St. Louis, Flowers left the game with a right hamstring cramp after flying out to end the top of the sixth. He was replaced by Kurt Suzuki, who was hit by a pitch and scored in the Braves' three-run eighth.

Video: ATL@STL: Flowers leaves with a cramp in the 6th

Flowers said he was fine after the game.

"I did everything that I know of and in my power to prepare for it," Flowers said. "Atlanta's not really any different climate-wise than what this was. No answers really, just bad luck."

HE SAID IT
"He's good. He's got one of the nastier right-hand curveballs I've ever seen. Very deceiving slider, looks a lot like his fastball that he was throwing up to 95, but it occasionally had a little bit of cut, too. It all kind of ran together and played together." -- Flowers, on Mikolas

UP NEXT
The Braves announced Friday that lefty Max Fried (0-2, 4.09 ERA) will replace starter Brandon McCarthy -- who was placed on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis -- for Saturday's 7:15 p.m. ET game vs. the Cardinals. Fried allowed one run in five innings in his last start on May 28, but did not factor in the decision. St. Louis will counter with righty Luke Weaver (4-6, 4.59 ERA).

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.

Atlanta Braves, Julio Teheran