By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman likes where the Atlanta Braves are positioned with the first half of the season complete.
“It’s nice to have a winning record at the break,” the All-Star first baseman said. “It’s been a few years. This is right where we need to be. Get some rest and hope to come out with a bang.”
Julio Teheran pitched six-plus scoreless innings, and the Braves used a four-run third inning to beat Patrick Corbin and the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 on Sunday.
It was a needed confidence boost before the All-Star break for Atlanta, which had lost eight of 10 and dropped to second in the NL East after leading the division for nearly six weeks. Atlanta goes into the break one-half game behind the Philadelphia Phillies.
“We obviously haven’t playing the way we wanted to the last couple of weeks, so to end on a good note for the first half — it was great,” Freeman said.
Teheran (7-6) allowed four hits and three walks, striking out six, before Jesse Biddle replaced him with one out in the seventh and stranded two runners.
Arizona has lost 10 of 16. Still, the Diamondbacks headed home with their 17th series win with a minimum of three games, tied for the most before the All-Star break in club history. They also matched last year’s franchise record with 53 wins at the season’s halfway mark.
Corbin (6-4) extended his winless streak to seven starts after he gave up six hits, four runs and one walk in six innings. The left-hander struck out three, a season low.
The Braves went ahead 4-0 in the third. Johan Camargo singled and scored from first on Dansby Swanson’s double down the third-base line. Swanson advanced to third on Teheran’s bunt and scored on Ozzie Albies’ infield single.
Albies advanced to third on his single when third baseman Jake Lamb threw errantly to first. Albies then scored on Freeman’s double, and Freeman scored on Nick Markakis’ bloop single.
“They had a couple of hits there, and I left a couple of balls up to Freeman and Markakis — I thought I made a good pitch inside that just fell in — and we had the tough roller there,” Corbin said. “That was the only inning I really had to work.”
Preston Tucker’s pinch-hit homer in the seventh off Randall Delgado put the Braves up 5-0. John Jay homered off Dan Winkler in the eighth to make it 5-1.
Teheran pitched around a leadoff double by Daniel Descalso in the third and a leadoff single by Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth. He got an assist in the third when catcher Kurt Suzuki fielded Corbin’s bunt in the batter’s box and threw out Descaslo at third to begin a double play.
Teheran gave up a leadoff single to A.J. Pollock in the seventh, but quickly picked him off. His day ended after he gave up a double to Lamb and issued a walk.
“I know the second half is going to be hard for us,” Teheran said. “We’re just trying to get our minds ready. I’m trying to get everything together so I can give a little more to the team.”
Corbin began the day 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in five career starts and two relief appearances against Atlanta, but he couldn’t overcome the 31-pitch fourth.
The Braves led the NL in runs scored for most of the season before dropping to fourth in the last two weeks. They had hit .188 with runners in scoring position over the previous 10 games.
Freeman entered with one hit in 13 career appearances against Corbin, but won his battle in the fourth. He is hitting .350 in 120 at-bats against left-handers, the second-best average in the majors by a left-handed batter.