Braves record shutout as Cards rest up
ATLANTA -- Julio Teheran completed his season in impressive fashion and the Braves marred Jaime Garcia's final tuneup for the postseason with a two-run third inning that proved sufficient during Friday night's 4-0 win over the Cardinals at Turner Field.
With the Cardinals resting most of their regulars in preparation for the postseason, Teheran surrendered five hits and escaped multiple scoring threats over six innings. The Braves right-hander concluded a frustration-filled season by notching a 1.62 ERA over his final six starts.
"That's the way you want to finish a year," Teheran said. "That's what you want to take home by finishing strong and showing everybody what you can do."
Preparing to possibly start one of the Cardinals' first two games in the National League Division Series, Garcia surrendered two runs and six hits while totaling 72 pitches (48 strikes) over four innings. The southpaw surrendered four consecutive one-out hits in the third inning, including a solo home run that highlighted the fourth three-hit game of Daniel Castro's young career.
"I was trying to do my best to not think about what's going on next week," Garcia said. "That's what my approach has been all season -- just worry about today and winning today. But at the same time, you have that little thing in the back of your mind of, 'OK, try not to do too much. Get your work in. And be ready for the big one.'"
While the Cardinals have nothing to play for during this final series of the regular season, the Braves are attempting to conclude a painful rebuilding season on a positive note. Their pitchers have posted a 0.71 ERA as they have won six of their past seven home games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Escape artist: Teheran surrendered four doubles, each of which was recorded with less than two outs, and also escaped unscathed after the Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning. His ability to wiggle out of trouble during this scoreless outing enabled him to enter the offseason with the confidence he has regained over the past two months. After posting a 4.71 ERA over his first 21 starts, he produced a 2.65 ERA over his final 12 starts.
"In the [season's] first half, I was concentrating on making adjustments," Teheran said. "It was a little difficult, but I am glad that I could do it in the second half. I finished strong and that is what we wanted."
Rally killer: Jon Jay, who is fighting for a spot on St. Louis' postseason roster, dissolved the Cardinals' best run-scoring opportunity against Teheran when, as a fifth-inning pinch-hitter, he grounded into a bases-loaded, no-out double play that erased the lead runner, Brandon Moss. It was one of two instances on Friday when Moss was out at home trying to score on a ground ball. The Cardinals finished 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"That hurt," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of coming up empty in the fifth. "And before that, too, we had a man on third with less than two outs. But we've been on the other side of that here in the last week and know that takes the wind out of your sails."
Turning heads: Castro has made a nice impression while sharing the second-base position with Jace Peterson over the past three weeks. The baby-faced infielder has recorded a multi-hit performance in six of his 19 career starts. He sparked the third-inning surge with a high fly ball that landed just over the left-field wall. It was his second home run in 85 Major League at-bats. He did not homer while compiling 400 at-bats with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this year. More >
"The last few games, I felt like I was struggling with the bat," Castro said. "So these past few days, I was getting here extra early and getting some extra hitting work done. It just so happened that I got an inside pitch and I put the barrel on it."
Waino is bueno: The Cardinals planned to get Adam Wainwright three relief appearances before the start of the postseason, and Wainwright made the second of those scheduled outings on Friday. Wainwright, who came off the disabled list on Wednesday, would have gotten through a 1-2-3 sixth on 10 pitches if not for a two-out error by Mark Reynolds. He ended up throwing 15 in the scoreless frame.
"Certainly better command and location of everything I threw and better action on my cutter and breaking ball," Wainwright said, comparing this outing to his last. "The more I get comfortable pitching in that situation, coming out of the bullpen, and the mechanics and in live situations again, the more crisp I'll be."
"We've been pitching well these past seven or eight [home] games. If you pitch well, you've got a chance to win a ballgame." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez
"I'm extremely excited and thankful and grateful for the opportunity I have right now. I just have to continue to do what I can do this week to prepare myself for whenever that time comes and go out there and give us a chance to win." -- Garcia, on preparing to pitch in the postseason for the first time since 2012
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Braves have hit a Major League-low 97 home runs. They have two games to avoid not reaching the 100-homer mark for the first time since 1988.
Cardinals: John Lackey will take the mound when the three-game series continues Saturday (6:10 p.m. CT). He will be making his final preparations before likely starting one of the Cardinals' first two games of the National League Division Series.
Braves: Atlanta will counter Saturday night (7:10 ET) with Shelby Miller, who will be attempting to snap his 24-start winless streak while making his second start against his former Cardinals teammates. Miller allowed two hits and one run over seven innings on July 25 in St. Louis.
The game is available to stream free out of market on MLB.TV, presented by AT&T. Blackout restrictions apply.