San Francisco Giants fans celebrate as right fielder Hunter Pence (not pictured) hits a home run against Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) and right fielder Ryan Doumit (4) during the first inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Teheran, Alex Wood struggle as Atlanta Braves fall to San Francisco Giants


Wednesday afternoon’s tilt in San Francisco followed an encouraging blowout victory on Tuesday night, but things weren’t quite as easy for the Atlanta Braves in this one. In a back and forth battle, there were times of sunshine for Atlanta, but in the end, it was the pitching that betrayed them in a 10-4 defeat at the hands of the Giants.

For the second straight day, the Braves struck first offensively, but in the finale, it didn’t take nearly as long for Atlanta to light up the scoreboard. Tyler Pastornicky, who was in the leadoff spot in the absence of Jason Heyward, led off the game with a single, and following a Justin Upton flyout, Freddie Freeman strolled to the plate and rifled an RBI double off the center field wall. The offense wasn’t done there, either, as Chris Johnson drove in Freeman with a double down the left field line, and the Braves were seemingly off and running with a 2-0 lead.

Seemingly on cue, the Giants were jump-started by a lead-off walk from Gregor Blanco and a 2-run home run by Braves-killer Hunter Pence in the bottom half of the first inning. Atlanta starter Julio Teheran was clearly scuffling in the early going, as he allowed a single to Pablo Sandoval and a walk to Michael Morse after the home run, and Brandon Crawford guided a bloop single to left field to snatch away the lead at 3-2. Before Teheran could escape the inning, he needed 41 pitches and a visit from the trainer, and it was as ugly as it seems.

The onslaught continued in the second inning, as Teheran issued yet another walk to Blanco, who stole second, attempted to steal third, and came around to score on a throwing error by Evan Gattis. Mercifully, Julio was able to emerge from the second frame while trailing just 4-2, and after a much needed scoreless showing (on only 10 pitches) in the third inning, the storm was quieted.

Atlanta rallied after the important shutdown inning from Julio, and it was Gattis and Chris Johnson that got into the act with back-to-back doubles to cut the margin to 4-3. Later in the inning, Andrelton Simmons tied the game with a beautiful RBI triple to right-center field, and despite what seemed to be a disaster stretch, it was a “new game” in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, that new-found optimism didn’t last long, as the Giants scratched across a run in the bottom half of the fourth. First, Pence singled (again) to set up Buster Posey, who dumped a bloop single into right field that landed in front of the defensively-challenged Ryan Doumit. On cue, Sandoval followed with an RBI single to left, and the 5-4 margin was enough to force Teheran to the bench (after the shortest start of his career) in favor of Alex Wood. Before leaving, Julio allowed five earned runs and five walks over just 3.1 innings, and to be honest, it was clear that something was bothering him throughout.

Despite it being less than a favorable choice to insert him in this spot (why pitch Wood in long relief if you’re “saving his innings”?), Wood escaped further trouble with back-to-back strikeouts to end the fourth. However, that wouldn’t continue into the fifth inning, as the Giants would tack on two additional runs. Ryan Doumit struck again with a defensive deficiency when he failed to gun down Brandon Crawford on a sacrifice fly, and after a Gregor Blanco single (and his third stolen base of the day) led to Hunter Pence getting to the plate, he did the rest with another RBI single to push the advantage to 7-4.

There were different “fireworks” in the top of the sixth inning, as B.J. Upton was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes. The ejection came after Upton’s third strikeout of the day, and it was the first time that a member of the Braves (player or manager) has been excused from a game early this season. To make matters worse, Alex Wood (still in the game) allowed a solo home run to Michael Morse to lengthen the 4-run deficit, and through his 2.2 innings, Wood threw 40 pitches while allowing five hits and three runs. To be frank, it is still wildly unclear as to what the plan is for his deployment.

At 8-4 after six innings, the game wasn’t “over”, but when Brandon Crawford took David Carpenter out of the ballpark for a 2-run blast in the eighth, things turned comical. It is never a positive thing to get housed in a series finale, and because pitching was the culprit on this day, the Braves will be in re-evaluation mode.

Now, the Braves will have a much needed off day on Thursday before heading to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals over the weekend. Stay tuned.

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