Teheran falls four outs shy of no-no vs. Bucs
Pinch-hit single only blemish in righty's eight-inning, 11-strikeout gem
ATLANTA -- For the past two years, Julio Teheran has been untouchable to teams calling the Atlanta Braves about a trade.
On Wednesday afternoon at Turner Field, he was all but untouchable to the team facing them.
The 22-year-old had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings, as the Braves knocked off the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-0.
"I felt good today from the first inning. I could tell," said Teheran, who threw 107 pitches, 79 for strikes. "I was mixing. I had good communication with [catcher Gerald] Laird and we mixed all the pitches good."
"He mixed it up real well. His curveball, his changeup, the command of his fastball, he did a heck of a job," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "Today was nice, after an extra-inning game yesterday to give our bullpen a rest. Julio did that."
Teheran (4-2) came within four outs of the 15th no-hitter in franchise history, the fourth in Atlanta Braves history and the first for the Braves at Turner Field. The last Braves no-hitter came on April 8, 1994, when Kent Mercker no-hit the Dodgers, 6-0, at Dodger Stadium, while the last one at Turner Field came on April 17, 2010, when Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit the Braves.
Teheran went away from his reliance on his two-seam fastball, going more with a slider and curveball, with devastating results. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, striking out two hitters in each of the first three innings.
Seeing that, Laird had a feeling Teheran might be on course for something special.
"Those first two innings are the innings where you can give up some runs," he said. "After the second inning I thought, 'This could be a good day today. He's got everything working.' He pretty much was doing anything he wanted out there."
Teheran pitched from ahead all day, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 28 batters he faced.
Teheran struck out a career-high 11 while walking two batters and hitting two. He didn't allow a runner past first base and even got a huge pickoff of left fielder Starling Marte to end the sixth.
The bid to make history ended with two outs in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Brandon Inge lined a 1-1 pitch down the left-field line for a single.
"I was looking for whatever he threw up there that was going to be up in the zone, because he was keeping his breaking ball down throughout the game, and his fastball he was elevating," said Inge. "So anything he started high, I didn't care if it was going to be at my eyes, I was going to try to get on top of it. That's about your only chance when he was throwing the way he was today. He did an excellent job, handled it well, too."
Once Inge reached, Teheran got right back to business, aggressively going after the next hitter, Marte, whom he retired on a popup. He then left the mound to a long standing ovation.
"After the hit, I was just trying to get the next guy out and try to [complete the] shutout," said Teheran. "But they wouldn't let me go out."
"If he still had the no-hitter I would have run him back out there and given him an opportunity," said Gonzalez. "You don't want a kid to throw 135 pitches just to get a no-hitter. But he did a heck of a job."
The win was the fifth straight for Atlanta, which finished its homestand at 6-2.
With the Braves leading, 1-0, in the sixth, Evan Gattis and Laird blasted back-to-back home runs to pad the lead for Teheran. Atlanta's 1-2 hitters -- Andrelton Simmons, the hitting hero Tuesday night, and Jason Heyward -- each had two hits and scored a run.
Atlanta staked Teheran to the 1-0 lead in the first, as Simmons led off the game by beating out a topper toward first, getting to first just ahead of Pittsburgh starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-4), who would leave the game with left forearm tightness later in the inning. Heyward moved Simmons to third with a single to center, and third baseman Chris Johnson -- batting third for the first time this season -- plated him with a fielder's choice.
"It's good to give him a lead," said Heyward, who had his third straight two-hit game. "Especially when he's throwing like that. I wish we had given him more than one run a little earlier, but he hung in there for us and kept battling, kept them off the board and we were able to stick up two more runs so he could go out there and still feel confident."
The homer for Gattis was his 13th, a shot out to left that landed some 15 rows up on an 0-2 pitch from reliever Vin Mazzaro. Laird followed with his first of the season, also out to left, on a 2-2 pitch, the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
It was the sixth time the Braves have hit back-to-back home runs this season. Gattis has been involved in each of the last three.
Teheran has now allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last eight starts, pitching to a 2.13 ERA over that span.
"He's gaining more and more confidence," said Laird. "Once he goes out there and has a good game, he wants to do better. The last six, seven outings he's been right there going six, seven innings for us every time and giving us a chance to win. This kid just puts in the time and the work. He works hard in between starts, he works on things in his bullpen and it's starting to show in the game."
The Braves' quality play also is starting to show, a good sign as they head out on a seven-game West Coast trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.
"We're playing winning baseball right now," said Heyward. "Everybody's contributing in their own way, timely hits, we're playing pretty good defense and our pitchers are keeping runs off the board. We'll go out and have some fun, a change of scenery a little bit, time change out there, but go play baseball and have fun."
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.