FORT MILL, S.C. — Atlanta Braves top pitching prospect, Gwinnett right-hander Julio Teheran, turned in his best performance of the 2012 season on Sunday evening at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C.
The 21-year-old pitched a nine-inning complete game, the first of his professional career, leading the Gwinnett Braves to a 5-1 win over the Charlotte Knights.
Teheran, the International League’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Pitcher in 2011, had never gone longer than eight innings in a start heading into the outing. He changed that against the Knights, allowing only one run on seven hits, walking none and striking out six. Teheran (5-3) threw a season-high 109 pitches, 77 for strikes, to help the G-Braves end a four-game losing streak and increase their lead in the IL South to 1.5 games over the second-place Knights.
The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth as both Teheran and Charlotte starter Dylan Axelrod were dominating the game. But in that inning, the G-Braves scored their first run as Christian Marrero led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout to first by Collin DeLome and then scored on a squeeze play as Lance Zawadzki pushed a perfect bunt to first base.
Gwinnett added two more in the top of the sixth. Tyler Pastornicky drew a one out walk, stole second base and then moved to third on a throwing error by Charlotte catcher Josh Phegley. Felix Pie then plated Pastornicky with a ground-rule double to right-center for a 2-0 lead. Pie would then score on a single to left by Ernesto Mejia to raise the Gwinnett lead to 3-0.
In the top of the seventh, DeLome led off with a double to left, and moved to third on a single to right by Zawadzki. Shawn McGill then knocked in DeLome with a single to right to make it 4-0 and Zawadzki would later score on a groundout to short by Luis Durango.
With a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh, Teheran would give up his only run of the game, coming on a one-out solo homer to left-center by Jordan Danks (7).
Axlerod (4-3) suffered the loss, going 6.1 innings with seven hits, five earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts. Relievers Anthony Carter and Jhan Carlos Marinez combined for 1.2 scoreless innings to finish out the game.
Seven of the nine Gwinnett starters registered a hit in the game including Mejia, who went 1-for-4 with his team-leading 41st RBI. Greg Golson and Danks each were 2-for-4 to pace the Charlotte seven-hit attack.
The Gwinnett Braves (33-24) and Charlotte Knights (32-26) conclude the two-game series on Monday night at Knights Stadium. Right-hander Eric Junge (3-4, 4.20 ERA) will pitch for the G-Braves, while the Knights will counter with right-hander Charlie Shirek (5-3, 4.23 ERA).