Teheran finally living up to expectations

June 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) pitches in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

June 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) pitches in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The impressive results that rookie Julio Teheran put up in spring training didn't carry over to his first three starts of the regular season.

Had the 22-year-old native of Colombia failed to make the breakthrough the Braves had thought?

No one is questioning Teheran now, though. The right-hander has just kept getting better and better over his past eight starts.

"My confidence is the best thing that I have this year," said Teheran, who will face the Padres in San Diego on Monday in his next start. "I feel good out there. All my pitches are working good."

They certainly were against the Pirates on Wednesday, when he didn't allow a hit until two outs in the eighth inning and struck out a career-best 11.

"He definitely had good enough stuff to throw a no-hitter," catcher Gerald Laird said. "He pretty much was doing anything he wanted out there."

Teheran's prospect status sank a little after a difficult second season in Triple-A last year. But the Braves told other teams that he was still off limits after watching him rebound in the Dominican Winter League.

Now it is easy to see why he was untouchable.

"I think he probably opened up some eyes across the country," second baseman Dan Uggla said after the near no-hitter. "Let everyone know that he's for real."

Actually, he had already been doing that.

Teheran allowed just one run over seven innings on a sub-freezing day in Colorado on April 23 and has been red-hot since. That started a streak of seven quality starts in eight games and he didn't allow more than three runs in any of the games.

Teheran took a shutout into the ninth inning on May 20 before allowing a home run in a victory over Minnesota and struck out nine against Washington on May 31.

His 4-2 record and 3.30 ERA don't show just how well Teheran has pitched. After allowing 13 earned runs over 16 innings in those first three starts, he has given up just 13 over 55 innings in the eight starts since.

Brandon Beachy is expected back from Tommy John surgery on June 18, but a spot for Teheran in the rotation isn't in jeopardy.

Player notes

• RHP Craig Kimbrel's 17 saves is third best in the National League and tied for sixth in the major leagues. Kimbrel notched his 100th career save May 9 against the Giants. He is 106-for-120 (88 percent) over his career in save opportunities.

• LHP Paul Maholm allowed just one run on four hits in 7 strong innings in a no-decision and remained unbeaten since May 17 after Friday's start against the Dodgers. In that time, he's gone 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA (10 ER/32 IP) in five starts. After starting his career 0-5 with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts against the Dodgers, Maholm is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA (4 ER/19 IP) in his last three starts against Los Angeles since the start of the 2012 season.

• 1B Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 and scored Atlanta's only run of the game after doubling in the fourth inning against the Dodgers Friday. Freeman has hit safely in 12 of his last 15 games, batting .377 (23-for-61) with four homers and 14 RBIs since May 24. His three hits tied a season high (sixth time, last: May 28 at Toronto).

• RHP Brandon Beachy made his third injury rehab assignment start Monday with the Mississippi Braves and picked up a 5-3 win at Chattanooga. He pitched five innings and allowed three runs on six hits. Beachy underwent Tommy John surgery last June.

• RHP Kris Medlen takes a 2-6 record and a 3.14 ERA into his Saturday start against the Dodgers. Medlen has not made a start this year against the Dodgers, although he is 2-0 with a 1.59 career ERA against them. Medlen's last win against the Dodgers came in 2010.

Quote and note

"It was a first pitch, a slider, just up over the plate. I have to make better pitches. If it's down, I might get what I want there. But you can't make that kind of pitch in a situation like that. You tip your hat to him and learn from it." -- RHP Cory Gearrin, on the eighth-inning pitch Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig hit for a grand slam Thursday in the Braves' 5-0 loss.