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Teheran gets aggressive in best start of 2015

Braves righty allows just one hit over seven scoreless innings to beat Mets

ATLANTA -- As Braves right-hander Julio Teheran has struggled throughout this season, there has been reason to analyze his velocity, release point and pitch selection. But while each of these issues might have influenced his recent decline, Teheran believes he simply needs to continue being as aggressive as he was while producing his strongest start of the year in Sunday afternoon's 1-0 win over the Mets.

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"I think I was more focused," Teheran said. "I was trying to pound the zone and trying to attack the hitters. Every time I attack the hitters it's a different game."

Teheran certainly seemed to regain his confident swagger as he carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning and ended up limiting the Mets to one hit over an efficient seven scoreless innings. His 78-pitch effort might have been extended had a two-out Ryan Lavarnway double in the seventh inning not necessitated the need for Teheran to be lifted for pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco, who responded by producing the go-ahead single.

"He really brought all four of his pitches to the yard today," said Lavarnway, who has served as Teheran's catcher in his past two starts. "He was terrific. He was locating his fastball and his slider was good on both sides of the plate. He was really pitch-efficient. He could have easily finished that game had we not needed a pinch-hitter."

When Teheran opened the game with a six-pitch walk to Curtis Granderson, it appeared he might extend the frustration he had felt while producing a 5.07 ERA in his previous 14 starts this season. But the 24-year-old right-hander quickly righted himself and retired 12 straight hitters before allowing Wilmer Flores to begin the fifth inning with a single to left field.

After surrendering his only hit to Flores, Teheran completed a seven-pitch fifth inning by getting Dilson Herrera to ground into a double play. The Braves hurler retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.

"He was tough today," Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "It was tough to pick the ball up off of him."

Teheran had the benefit of facing a New York lineup that included just two left-handed hitters -- Granderson and Lucas Duda. Left-handers had hit .326 and compiled a .399 on-base percentage against Teheran in his previous 14 starts.

But with Teheran focusing on some attack adjustments he made with pitching coach Roger McDowell earlier in the week, Granderson and Duda combined to go 0-for-4 with two walks.

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"For him, it's about location and command, especially against those left-handers," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

One start might not erase all of the concerns Teheran has created over the past few months, but this stellar outing against the Mets might at least create some renewed confidence for the young hurler, who shined while producing a 2.89 ERA during last year's All-Star season.

"I feel the same way that I did the last two years," Teheran said. "I'm just trying to come back, and I know we're close."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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