Rangers fend off no-hit bid to down Braves

Bonilla allows two runs over six innings to pick up first MLB win

Rangers fend off no-hit bid to down Braves

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Tim Bogar said on Friday that he would be "ecstatic" if Lisalverto Bonilla could go five innings in his first Major League start on Saturday.

So what's the next level of emotion beyond ecstatic, after Bogar watched Bonilla go six innings and earn his first Major League win in a 3-2 victory over the Braves at Globe Life Park?

"I don't know ... amazed," Bogar said.

That's one way to describe it. Bonilla simply stated the obvious after his first big league start.

"It was something that was big for me," Bonilla said after the Rangers won their second straight game and put themselves in position for their first series sweep since April 21-23.

"He threw a tremendous game," reliever Neal Cotts said. "I don't know what the expectations were, as far as pitch counts. But he competed and kept us in the game. The offense came through and he got a win."

Cotts, with Neftali Feliz unavailable after working two straight games, retired the side in the ninth for his first save of the season and third of his career. He did so on an afternoon in which rookie pitchers retired 23 of 27 outs for the Rangers. Rookies also accounted for two of their three hits.

"They are doing a lot better," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "By now, they have a little more experience and they are starting to figure it out in the field. That's what we want. It has been a tough year, but as long as we keep playing hard to the last day of the season, that's what you want."

Bonilla, who had made just two relief appearances in the Majors since being called up on Sept. 2, did most of the work, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked four, struck out three and threw just 78 pitches in place of Scott Baker.

"I saw him, at first, being a little erratic trying to get comfortable, trying to settle in," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. "Obviously, he settled down and made some pitches. I would say he was wild effectively today -- not in the worst way, though. He was around the plate enough and was off the plate enough."

Bonilla had to step it up because Braves starter Julio Teheran held the Rangers hitless through 5 1/3 innings. Then, the Rangers broke through with three unearned runs in the sixth inning and their young pitchers made it stand up.

The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the third inning with three straight two-out hits. Emilio Bonifacio singled, stole second and scored on a single by Phil Gosselin. Freddie Freeman then sliced a high fly ball down the left-field line that fell for a double, bringing home Gosselin.

That was it off of Bonilla, who allowed just one infield single over his final three innings and retired the last seven batters he faced.

"I was really happy with how he did," Bogar said. "He walked four left-handers, but, for the most part, he pounded the strike zone. It was a pretty exciting game for him. He was using his offspeed pitches to get the outs. He threw his slider very well and used his changeup. If he is locating his fastball and getting it over, it makes the other stuff better -- and he did that today."

Teheran took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, before Luis Sardinas broke it up with a one-out single. After Michael Choice popped out, Leonys Martin hit a fly ball to shallow left that Justin Upton dropped for an error. That left runners on first and second with two outs.

Andrus then singled to drive home one run and Rougned Odor doubled to deep left-center to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

"Teheran was pitching good," Odor said. "We had to make some adjustments, and we were able to get him."

Bonilla left after six. Roman Mendez took over and pitched a scoreless seventh. The Rangers retired the Braves in order in the eighth, as Mendez, Michael Kirkman and Spencer Patton each retired one hitter, leaving the ninth inning to Cotts.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.