ATLANTA -- For two and a half hours, Brandon Inge watched Julio Teheran shut down his teammates, as the Pirates offense stood helpless against the most electric performance of the Braves starting pitcher's young career.
Then, with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Inge stepped in as a pinch-hitter to put those two-plus hours of extra scouting to use, lining a high fastball into left field for a single that broke up Teheran's bid for a no-hitter. That base hit stood up as one of the few positives from a 5-0 loss to the Braves on Wednesday afternoon that left the Pirates searching for answers on offense and scrambling for healthy arms in their starting rotation.
"I didn't see exactly what he was throwing, but I could see what he was getting guys out with," Inge said. "It was just a great game he pitched. I don't think any team wants to get no-hit, so I'm glad I could get a hit."
Teheran was dominant from start to finish, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before walking Andrew McCutchen with two outs in the fourth and setting a career high with 11 strikeouts. The 22-year-old righty allowed just four baserunners -- two walks and two hit batters -- before the hit. He threw 107 pitches in his dispatching of the Pirates, who were swept for just the second time this season.
Teheran ended the seventh inning with his third strikeout of Pedro Alvarez, inducing a swing and miss on a slider and walking off the field to a standing ovation. Then in the eighth, he retired Russell Martin and Clint Barmes before Inge pulled his 1-1 offering into left field to break up the no-hitter. The 22 swinging strikes Teheran coaxed out of the Pittsburgh bats also set a season high for the young righty.
"From the side, it looked like he was pounding his offspeed [pitches] and riding his fastball up," Inge said. "He was getting guys in between the breaking ball and the fastball, just enough for where they swing underneath his fastball and over top of his breaking ball."
"These guys are making every effort to get better results, and right now we're not getting them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Adversity's going to knock on your door throughout the season, and for the last eight days, we've had to do some yard work all over the place, especially off the mound. Our hitters are aware of the role they play, and they're going to continue working at it, and they're going to get better."
The Pirates rotation's injury woes continued on Wednesday afternoon, when Wandy Rodriguez was forced to exit his start after just 14 pitches with tightness in his left forearm. It was the shortest outing of Rodriguez' 242 career starts.
Rodriguez had recorded only one out in the bottom of the first inning, allowing Braves leadoff man Andrelton Simmons to come around and score on an RBI groundout by Chris Johnson. After Rodriguez hit Freddie Freeman three pitches later, trainers and Hurdle came out to the mound to attend to Rodriguez, who was clenching and unclenching his left hand and pointing to his forearm near the elbow.
"He caught a flight to get back to Pittsburgh to get looked at there," Hurdle said. "Basically, he said he had left forearm tightness, and anything past what he had gone out there to do at that point, he wasn't comfortable doing it. I completely understood."
Reliever Bryan Morris came on in place of Rodriguez and escaped the first with no further damage, tossing 3 2/3 hitless innings. Morris also turned in three shutout innings in long relief on Sunday, when starter Jeanmar Gomez exited after one inning with tightness in his right forearm. The Pirates went on to win that game, 5-4, in extra innings after a herculean effort by the Pittsburgh bullpen, as five relievers combined to turn in 10 scoreless innings.
"The most challenging part right now is actually going the length," Morris said. "The other day I went three innings, but I only threw 27 pitches. When you get more than 20, you're basically just gutting it, but that's what we needed today, so that's what we were going for."
Called into extended duty for the second time in four days and less than 24 hours removed from shouldering Tuesday's extra-innings loss, the rest of the Pirates' bullpen was not as sharp as Morris. Back-to-back home runs by Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird off Vin Mazzaro helped pad the Atlanta lead in the sixth inning, and the Braves tacked on two more in the seventh to improve to 21-7 at Turner Field this year.
"That's one thing, I think, you have to come to a certain point in time where you can just tip your hat and say 'They played better than us,'" Hurdle said. "You don't have to like it, but you can acknowledge it and move on. They played better than us this series."
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.