Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez watched his team’s lead in the NL East slip to 10 games with Sunday’s loss to San Diego. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — San Diego Padres rookie Burch Smith got in more trouble sitting on the bench before the game than he got from the Atlanta lineup on Sunday.
Smith sat down on the bench before going to the mound and got some sort of cleaning product on his hands. There was a moment of anxiety for Burch, who got the slippery stuff off his hands in time to pitch. He then went on to post his first big-league win.
Smith pitched no-hit ball for five innings, and the Padres wound up with a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Smith (1-1) pitched seven scoreless innings, allowed three hits and struck out 10. The right-hander retired the first 11 batters faced and did not allow a hit until Julio Teheran singled to lead off the sixth inning.
“He threw a good mix of pitches,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. “Primarily the fastball-change combo was effective. He had a nice smooth delivery, but he kept his velocity.”
Nick Vincent pitched the eighth and Huston Street pitched the ninth to finish the shutout. It was the 14th time the Braves have been blanked this season, the first since Sept. 1 by Miami.
The win gave San Diego two wins in the three-game series at Turner Field. The Padres beat the Braves in five of their six meetings this year. Atlanta’s magic number to clinch the National League East remained at four.
Smith outdueled fellow rookie Teheran (12-8), who gave up four runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings and saw his two-game winning streak broken.
“(Teheran) pitched well enough that he deserved a better opportunity to win the ballgame,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Smith now has 28 strikeouts over 19 1/3 innings in his five starts. It was his first double-digit strikeout game, exceeding the eight he posted on May 17 against Washington. He became only the seventh rookie to get at least 10 strikeouts for the Padres, the first since Oliver Perez in 2002.
“It was a good use of the changeup; he located the fastball down and he elevated it times,” Black said. “All in all it was a well-pitched game by a rookie pitcher.”
Gonzalez wasn’t blown away by Smith, even though the Braves had only two runners reach scoring position against him.
“I thought their guy was OK,” he said. “He threw some quality strikes when he threw them in a strike zone. He was comfortably wild. We didn’t get a good read on them.”
San Diego broke a scoreless tie by scoring three runs in the sixth inning. With one out, Will Venable singled, ending a streak of 14 consecutive batters retired by Teheran, and stole second. Venable scored on Jedd Gyorko’s sharp two-out single to left field. Chase Headley then followed with a long two-run homer to right, his 13th, and his third homer in as many days.
The Padres tacked on another run in the seventh on a towering homer by rookie Tommy Medica, his second, to take a 4-0 lead.
Atlanta had two scoring chances against Smith, but failed to deliver. Freddie Freeman walked and reached second on an error, but stayed there when Evan Gattis struck out. The Braves got runners on the corners with one out in the sixth, but Freeman popped to shallow center and Gattis struck out.
“He did a good job pitching to the middle of their order,” Black said. “Those are some good players. They’re not leading the league for nothing.”
The Braves threatened in the ninth against Street. Freeman doubled to lead off the inning, but Street retired the next three batters and struck out Andrelton Simmons to end the game.
NOTES: The Braves start a six-game, seven-day road trip, their last of the season, which will take them to Washington and Chicago. The Padres move to Pittsburgh for a four-game series that will conclude a 10-day East Coast road trip. … Injured Braves Jason Heyward and Tim Hudson will accompany the team on its trip. Heyward (broken jaw) is taking batting practice and hopes to rejoin the team by the playoffs. Hudson (broken ankle) simply wanted to be a part of the trip, as he won’t begin his rehab until having a screw removed from his ankle in late October.