PITTSBURGH -- Backed by Freddie Freeman's RBI single and Tyler Flowers' home run, right-hander Julio Teheran snapped his eight-start winless streak in a 3-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Teheran shut out the Pirates for 7 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out three without a walk. Despite entering the night with a 3.17 ERA, and ending it with a 2.73 mark, Teheran had lost a career-high-tying four straight decisions. On Wednesday, he shut out a Pirates lineup that put up 12 runs on 21 hits the previous night.
"He changed speeds so well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He hit the locations he wanted to all night long."
Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano returned to form after a rough outing in Chicago, holding the Braves to two runs. Liriano walked only two batters, inducing soft contact from Atlanta's lineup and efficiently working seven innings on 94 pitches.
"What I wanted to do today was attack the strike zone and make something happen with three pitches or less," Liriano said. "Make them put the ball in play, try to go deep into the game. I was just hitting my spots and executing my pitches."
But the Braves took their first lead of the series in the third inning, when Daniel Castro came home on Freeman's single to center field. Flowers padded the Braves' lead in the sixth, launching his first homer of the season into the bushes beyond the center-field fence. That was enough for Teheran, who snapped Atlanta's three-game losing streak and delivered interim manager Brian Snitker his first win.
"It was a good team win all the way around," Snitker said. "We caught the ball well and Julio just fed off all the runs he got and just did a great job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Four outs, one save: Teheran had retired 17 of the past 20 batters he had faced before surrendering consecutive one-out singles in the eighth. Though his starter's pitch count was at 91 with two outs in the inning, Snitker called upon Arodys Vizcaino, who stranded a pair of runners with Andrew McCutchen's flyout to end the frame, then completed a four-out save despite surrendering Jung Ho Kang's solo homer in the ninth. More >
"They've got a good lineup over there and I was just trying not to make mistakes," said Teheran, who has posted a 1.15 ERA over his past six starts. "I was able to do it the whole game."
Familiar feeling: With Nick Markakis on first base and the Pirates' defense shifted in the first, Freeman knocked a ground ball up the middle. Jordy Mercer fielded it cleanly and flipped the ball to Kang, who fired to first baseman John Jaso for the inning-ending double play. It was the first time Kang had attempted to turn a double play at second base since the Sept. 17 collision with the Cubs' Chris Coghlan that ended his rookie season. More >
Kang Show returns to Pittsburgh: Kang contributed on the other side of the ball, too, ripping a solo shot into the left-field seats in the ninth inning. Kang's fifth homer in 10 games put the Pirates on the board, keeping them from being shut out for the first time this season.
"It feels good to hit a home run," Kang said, "but it feels better when we win."
Small ball and another long ball: Freeman had been hitless in his past 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position before he notched an RBI single with two outs in the third inning. Flowers' sixth-inning solo shot highlighted his three-hit night and was the fifth homer the Braves have hit during the first three games of this series. They came to Pittsburgh with just nine homers through their first 36 games.
"Actually, the catching part is way more fun than hitting home runs and contributing [offensively]," said Flowers, who has guided Teheran to a 0.42 ERA over three starts. "We were prepared. We executed and we had some really good results. That's much more satisfying than any hit I'll get."
"We played good baseball the last couple games. We've just got to continue to play the way we're playing right now, and we're going to be OK. We're not going to score a lot of runs every day." -- Liriano, on not getting any run support a day after the Pirates' 12-run, 21-hit performance
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Teheran ended the seventh inning by picking Matt Joyce off first base. He is now tied with Clayton Kershaw for the most pickoffs (21) since the start of 2013. No other right-handed pitcher entered Wednesday with more than 11.
Snitker lost his first challenge when a replay review confirmed first-base umpire Chris Conroy's ruling that Josh Harrison avoided Freeman's tag on a pickoff attempt in the fifth inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Mike Foltynewicz will attempt to complete a third consecutive impressive start when this four-game series concludes on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Since surrendering three home runs during the first inning of his season debut, the hard-throwing right-hander has allowed two runs over the 18 innings that have followed.
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke will try to get back on track in the series finale. Locke allowed six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Cubs in his last start. He should be backed by left fielder Starling Marte, scheduled to return from the paternity list following the birth of his daughter.