Braves Hang on to Beat Rangers, Split Twin Bill

Throughout the early portion of his career, Cole Hamels frequently helped the Phillies make a push toward the postseason with a strong start against the Braves. His bid to do the same for the Rangers on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park unraveled during a five-run second inning that proved decisive in Texas’ 5-4 loss.

Provided the chance to help the Rangers sweep a doubleheader and move within a game of the American League’s second Wild Card spot, Hamels was undone by a few of his own mistakes during the second inning, which was capped by Freddie Freeman’s two-run double. The Rangers’ southpaw retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced, but allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits over six innings.
“Putting a five-spot is definitely not the right way to go about it,” Hamels said.
With just their third loss in the past nine games, the Rangers fell two games behind the Twins, who currently sit in the AL’s second Wild Card spot. Rangers manager Jeff Banister said the team must put the loss behind them before a crucial series vs. the Yankees begins Friday.
“We have to continue to play good baseball by showing up, pitching well and playing all facets of the game,” Banister said.
After being outscored, 12-8, in the first game of the twin bill, the Braves turned to Julio Teheran, who matched a career high with five walks, but limited the Rangers to three earned runs over five innings. Teheran surrendered Nomar Mazara’s one-out, two-run homer in the third inning, then hit Carlos Gomez ahead of a Joey Gallo walk. He escaped unscathed when Rougned Odor grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“I kind of was a little careful because I didn’t want to make a mistake,” Teheran said. “Five walks, it’s a lot, but I didn’t want to just throw the ball over the middle of the plate so they could hit it.”
Exactly a week after tallying eight hits during a doubleheader in Philadelphia, Braves leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte totaled five hits in this one. He highlighted his two-hit performance in the nightcap by fueling the second-inning eruption with an RBI single.
“It was good we got the offense early in the game,” Teheran said. “It’s good to have that offense so that you can relax a little bit. I knew I was facing a really good team, and they showed it. They made me throw a lot of pitches.”
Hamels issued a four-pitch walk to Nick Markakis to begin the bottom of the second, then hit Kurt Suzuki with a two-strike curveball. Dansby Swanson followed by driving in the game’s first run with a single. The Rangers’ veteran pitcher fueled the eruption by fielding Teheran’s bunt and sailing his throw to second into center field. Suzuki scored on the play and the Braves followed with three consecutive hits, including Freeman’s double off the left-center field wall.
“It’s definitely not finishing guys off,” Hamels said. “When I get two strikes, for some odd reason, I can’t locate a pitch in a better area to where I can at least get a punchout or a weak ground ball. I have just not been able to locate it.”
Delino DeShields opened the top of fifth with a sinking liner that a diving Markakis caught in right field. Mazara delivered a one-out single and scored on Gomez’s double off the center-field wall. With two left-handed hitters coming to the plate, Teheran then issued consecutive walks to get to the right-handed Robinson Chirinos, who popped out to second baseman Ozzie Albies.
Lefty Sean Newcomb will take the mound when the Braves and Marlins begin a four-game series at SunTrust Park on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Newcomb has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his past eight starts.