Late rally falls short, as Braves lose to Padres
Heyward hits two HRs, Gattis smacks three-run shot, Teheran struggles
SAN DIEGO -- Julio Teheran provided a reminder that he is destined to endure more growing pains, and Evan Gattis accomplished the improbable by hitting yet another pinch-hit home run.
But the home runs Gattis and Jason Heyward hit in a four-run ninth inning were not enough for the Braves to overcome the damage incurred by Teheran and Cory Gearrin in Monday night's 7-6 loss to the Padres at Petco Park.
"We got behind the eight-ball, but I'm glad to see our club never die," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
There was little for the Braves to be excited about as they entered the ninth staring at a 7-2 deficit. Teheran had endured his least impressive start in two months, and one of the few offensive highlights belonged to Heyward, who started his first multi-homer game of season with a solo shot off Jason Marquis in the eighth.
But things turned quite interesting when Tim Stauffer surrendered a pair of singles ahead of Gattis' three-run homer deep into the left-field seats. Two batters later, Heyward cut Atlanta's deficit to one with a solo shot off Dale Thayer with two outs.
But thoughts of completing an improbable comeback died when Thayer struck out Justin Upton to end the game. Somewhere in the midst of the thrilling ninth, the Braves managed to take something positive out of what had the makings to be a ho-hum lopsided loss.
"I'm really, really proud of this team," Heyward said. "We've got a really good team. We didn't quit. We don't quit. We have a lot of fun, and we pride ourselves on that. That's an example of it right there."
Teheran experienced a letdown as he made his first start since coming within four outs of a no-hitter against the Pirates last week. The 22-year-old right-hander surrendered a pair of home runs and was charged with five runs in six innings. He had not allowed more than three runs while compiling a 2.13 ERA in his previous eight starts.
"I think our expectation of Teheran was for him to go out every time out and throw seven shutout innings and take a no-hitter into the eighth," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes he's going to have four or five good ones. And sometimes, he's going to have one like this."
While the ninth-inning rally would have been enough to overcome Teheran's struggles, the Braves were unable to erase the damage incurred by Gearrin, who allowed two hits and a walk before recording his first out in the decisive two-run seventh. Marquis' double-play groundout scored Logan Forsythe with what proved to be the winning run, as it gave San Diego a 7-2 lead.
"We've been so spoiled with our bullpen holding the other team there," Gonzalez said. "Even when we're down or when we're ahead, you hold them. We didn't today. We gave up two runs."
Marquis pitched around five walks while limiting the Braves to two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings. The former Braves pitcher is 7-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his past nine starts.
Four of the six hits surrendered by Teheran were recorded in consecutive fashion with one out in a three-run fourth inning. After Carlos Quentin and Kyle Blanks notched one-out singles, Will Venable drilled a slider over the right-field wall for a three-run homer.
"I tried to throw for the back foot," Teheran said. "I missed it and hung that slider. I was trying to stay in the game to keep the team in the game."
Teheran's struggles began when center fielder B.J. Upton was unable to catch Alexi Amarista's long fly ball just in front of the center-field wall with one out in the first. Amarista's triple put him in scoring position in front of Chase Headley's RBI groundout.
The Padres added to their early advantage when Forsythe hit a solo home run in the second. The 445-foot home run came on the second baseman's first at-bat of the season.
"It's great to see a guy right off the get-go make an impact," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He did in a big way with the homer and the base hit."
Gattis has certainly continued to make an impact, even though he does not have an everyday role. He is now 6-for-8 with a double, four home runs and 11 RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
"I don't know how or why it's working out that way, but it is," Gattis said.
Heyward's late-inning power display continued his recent success. The 23-year-old right fielder has hit .412 (14-for-34) with three home runs in an eight-game hitting streak. In the process, his batting average has jumped from .142 to .207.
"I'm glad to contribute and take some weight off other guys and produce in this lineup," Heyward said. "I feel like we're a young team. We've all got some growing up to do."