ATLANTA -- Randall Delgado was presented a stiff challenge in his Major League debut. Unfortunately for the Braves, their offense appears to be facing great challenges on a daily basis.
Delgado impressed with his poise and kept things interesting until the Rangers constructed a four-run fifth inning that provided plenty of cushion as they snapped a five-game losing streak, beating the Braves, 6-2, at Turner Field on Friday night.
Starting in place of Tommy Hanson, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, Delgado didn't seem fazed through his first four innings against the defending American League champions. But the 21-year-old righty threw one too many changeups to reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who highlighted the four-run fifth with a tiebreaking two-run homer.
Hamilton's fifth homer of the season provided a lead for Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who bounced back from two rough outings and limited the Braves to two runs over 6 2/3 innings. All of the damage incurred by the 31-year-old right-hander came courtesy of solo home runs hit by Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman.
Taking advantage of a shaky R.A. Dickey and the suspect Mets' bullpen, the Braves snapped a three-game skid with Thursday night's 9-8, 10-inning victory. But Lewis, who had allowed 15 earned runs and totaled 4 2/3 innings in his two previous starts, managed to quickly kill any optimism surrounding the Atlanta offense.
The Braves have scored two runs or fewer in 11 of their past 26 games. Martin Prado will be on the disabled list for a couple of more weeks and Chipper Jones missed this series opener with a strained right adductor muscle.
While helping Texas win for just the third time in the past 11 games, Lewis was pulled with Jason Heyward coming to the plate with two outs and a runner on first base in the seventh.
Veteran left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes induced a grounder that Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre fielded before surprising Ian Kinsler with a throw to second base. Still, the late-arriving Kinsler had time to throw to first base to retire Heyward, who seemed to slow down after coming out of the box.
The around-the-horn out to end the seventh added to a night filled with defensive highlights. Lewis put himself in contention for play of the year when he went to the first-base line and made a backhanded flip that beat Heyward to first. One inning later, Beltre went down the left-field line and caught Eric Hinske's looping fly ball with his back to the infield.
This was a crazy 24-hour stretch for Delgado, who was going through his final preparations to start for Double-A Mississippi on Thursday night before the club called to inform him he would be making this debut. The 21-year-old hurler confidently threw his changeup and impressed with some fastballs that touched 95 mph.
Delgado's only damage through the first four innings came courtesy of the consecutive doubles Michael Young and Nelson Cruz hit to open the second. Cruz's line drive RBI double hit off Freeman's glove near the first base and then found its way toward right field.
After Brooks Conrad bobbled Elvis Andrus' grounder to begin the fifth, Hamilton crushed a knee-high changeup over the right-center field wall to give the Rangers a lead they would preserve. The Braves' young prospect exited when Beltre followed with a single. Two batters later, Cruz hit a two-run double off Cristhian Martinez.
McCann gave Atlanta some hope with his game-tying homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. Freeman seemed to be releasing some frustration with the towering sixth-inning homer that he sent deep into the right-field seats. He had two hits and 11 strikeouts in his previous 19 at-bats.
After Heyward hit a two-out double and McCann followed with a walk in the first, Freeman was set down on strikes. The rookie first baseman also struck out immediately after McCann hit his fourth-inning home run.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.