(AP) — The Atlanta Braves’ Julio Teheran ranks among baseball’s ERA leaders after holding his last his two opponents without a run.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to the Miami Marlins, who haven’t been able to figure him out.
Teheran tries to extend his streak of 15 scoreless innings as the slumping Braves open a three-game road set against the Marlins on Friday night with first place in the NL East on the line.
After throwing a six-hit shutout against Milwaukee on May 20, Teheran (4-3, 1.77 ERA) scattered four hits and struck out seven over six innings to beat Colorado 7-0 on Sunday. The right-hander, who threw a career-high 128 pitches against the Brewers, was removed after 93 last weekend.
“That worked out great,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We want these guys for 35 starts, and he understood right away. We’ve got to keep an eye on these guys. We want them for the long haul.”
Teheran, third in the majors in ERA, also ranks fifth with a .195 opponent batting average.
“That’s what makes him good. He throws a lot of strikes,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss told MLB’s official website. “There’s some deception with his delivery, but he commands all his pitches and throws (them) for strikes.”
Teheran has gone 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts versus the Marlins while striking out 32 over 32 1-3 innings. He threw seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-2, 10-inning win against them April 21. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is 1 for 12 against Teheran and Adeiny Hechavarria is 2 for 14.
The Braves (28-25) are hoping to bounce back after losing four straight to Boston. They went a combined 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position and committed four errors during a two-game sweep at Fenway Park, falling 4-3 in walkoff fashion in Thursday’s finale.
“You play this game long enough, things like that are going to happen,” center fielder B.J. Upton said. “We’ll get by it and be ready to play tomorrow.”
Atlanta now sits in a first-place tie with Miami (28-25), which returns home after sweeping a quick rain-shortened two-game set at Washington. Casey McGehee matched a career high with four hits and Reed Johnson drove in two runs in Wednesday’s 8-5, 10-inning victory.
“Huge,” said reliever Mike Dunn, whose team has won five of seven. “They’re definitely one of the better teams in the league, let alone the National League. To come in and play two really good games against them and come away with a W was huge.”
At 20-8, the Marlins own the best home record in baseball. They are averaging 5.6 runs and slugging .452 at home compared to their road marks of 3.6 and .377.
Miami gives the ball to Tom Koehler (4-4, 3.10), who surrendered a season-worst seven runs over five innings last Friday in a 9-5 loss to Milwaukee. The right-hander entered that game having gone 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his first four home starts.
“He’s had some really good outings, and tonight he just had a tough time executing his pitches,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He made a lot of mistakes out over the middle of the plate. … And when you make mistakes against good teams they make you pay.”
Koehler has been extremely inconsistent of late, going 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA over a six-start stretch. He’s allowed a combined 15 runs over 13 2-3 innings in those defeats while recording 22 scoreless innings in the other three appearances.
Koehler, who yielded two runs over 6 1-3 innings opposite Teheran last month, is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts against the Braves.
Miami outscored Atlanta 23-7 in taking all three home meetings April 29-May 1, improving to 4-2 in the series this year.
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