ATLANTA -- Following Mike Soroka's lead, Julio Teheran came off the disabled list and created the possibility of a no-hitter. It was just that kind of homestand for the Braves, who exited this homestand justifiably feeling good about the makeup of their starting rotation.A refreshed Teheran regained normal fastball velocity
ATLANTA -- Following Mike Soroka's lead, Julio Teheran came off the disabled list and created the possibility of a no-hitter. It was just that kind of homestand for the Braves, who exited this homestand justifiably feeling good about the makeup of their starting rotation.
A refreshed Teheran regained normal fastball velocity and had his trusty slider working as he recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts and completed six no-hit innings to help the Braves claim a 4-1 win over the Padres on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park. His bid to extend his gem was denied by the combination of a high pitch count and a hamstring cramp.
"I wanted to stay in, but when I got to the dugout, I was still cramping and that's not a good sign," Teheran said. "I wanted to go, especially when you're feeling good and have all your stuff."
Looking like the Teheran of old, the Braves veteran battled through command issues during a 24-pitch first inning and retired 15 straight batters before issuing consecutive one-out walks in the sixth. His right hamstring began cramping during this inning and truly bit him when he threw the last of his 95 pitches to strike out Jose Pirela.
As much as Teheran might have wanted to extend his effort, he didn't put up much of a fight after he limped toward the dugout and arrived still feeling the effects of the cramp. He was starting for the first time since he jammed his right thumb while batting during his June 4 start in San Diego.
"He hadn't been out there in the heat, and the first two innings he had to work pretty hard," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I told him, 'You're not going nine innings anyway.' He did exactly what we wanted him to do."
Atlanta's bid for a combined no-hitter was erased when right-handed reliever Shane Carle allowed Cory Spangenberg to single to center with one out in the seventh inning. Pirela produced a sacrifice fly against A.J. Minter in the eighth, but Arodys Vizcaino then escaped trouble with a scoreless ninth that ended with Nick Markakis' diving catch near the right-field line.
The Braves, who now have a season-high 3 1/2-game lead in the National League East race, began this 5-1 homestand with Mike Foltynewicz delivering five solid innings before exiting with right triceps tightness. Foltynewicz is lined up to start next weekend, and Soroka, who allowed one hit over 6 1/3 innings on Wednesday, will start Tuesday's game in Toronto.
With the returns of Teheran and Soroka, the Braves are feeling good about a rotation that has posted a 2.20 ERA over the past 17 games.
"It allows you to take a big step forward, getting those two guys back," Snitker said. "Both were really good. It was just really good to see the crispness on Julio's stuff again."
Teheran's command was suspect as he walked Travis Jankowski and then hit Pirela with a pitch before recording the game's second out. But the veteran hurler then proceeded to strike out each of the next six batters he faced.
"When you have your arm feeling good, you don't have anything else to worry about," Teheran said. "You just go out there and make pitches. Today, it felt like everything was working."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two was enough: Markakis' two-out infield single in the first inning accounted for the only hit allowed by Matt Strahm, who served as the starter in what was the Padres' latest bullpen game. Padres left-handed reliever Jose Castillo had limited opponents to one hit in 21 at-bats before allowing Tyler Flowers' single and Camargo's decisive double in the fourth.
Flowers added a two-run homer in the eighth off Brad Hand. He was forced to enter the game after Kurt Suzuki was hit in the head with Raffy Lopez's backswing to end the second inning.
Suzuki passed all necessary tests and will be available to play when the Braves return to action Tuesday.
"It was fate," Suzuki said. "I was meant to come out of that game. Flo came in and did an unbelievable job."
Teheran's four-seam fastball averaged 91.4 mph, which matched last year's average. He had averaged 89.5 mph with this pitch in the 13 starts he made before going on the disabled list.
"I think the uptick in velocity definitely helps his off-speed a little more," Flowers said. "He had good feel with his changeup and slider. His curveball, not so much. But when you've got three out of four with some confidence, those are some good weapons."
Teheran threw 19 sliders, six of which induced a swinging strike and three registered a called strike. The effective combination of these pitches helped him notch his ninth career double-digit strikeout game and first since notching a career-high 12 against the Tigers on Oct. 2, 2016.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After Spangenberg and Freddy Galvis recorded consecutive singles to begin the ninth, Vizcaino notched consecutive strikeouts. But his escape wasn't completed until Markakis denied Franmil Reyes of an extra-base hit with his game-ending diving catch.
Soroka will experience a thrill when the Braves open a two-game series against the Blue Jays at 7:07 p.m. ET Tuesday. Soroka will be pitching in front of a number of friends and family members, who will come from his hometown of Calgary to see him start for the first time in Canada. The 20-year-old right-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Wednesday's start against the Mets. The Blue Jays will counter with Jaime Garcia, who spent last season's first four months in Atlanta's rotation.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.