Braves clobber Rockies with four home runs

5/25/2014

By David O'Brien

By David O'Brien

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA (MCT) — No major league catcher has hit as many home runs this season as Evan Gattis, and no major leaguer — period — has hit as many home runs in home games as Justin Upton.

They both were at it again Sunday when Gattis homered twice and Justin Upton once to power the Braves and Julio Teheran to a 7-0 win against the Rockies in a series finale at Turner Field.

Chris Johnson added a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Braves rolled to their 14th win in 17 games against the Rockies since the beginning of the 2012 season, including two of three in this series.

Gattis' third career multi-homer game and second this season raised El Oso Blanco's total to 10 home runs, three more than a group of three other catchers who have the next-most with seven. That trio includes the man that Gattis replaced, Brian McCann, who has hit seven for the Yankees.

Gattis homered with the bases empty in the second inning and with one on in the fourth inning to give the Braves a 3-0 lead, and Upton added a two-run homer in the fifth as the Braves provided far more run support than necessary for Teheran and the Braves bullpen.

Teheran (4-3) allowed four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings, and left with a 5-0 lead after throwing 93 pitches. The Braves didn't need to push him any further after he threw a career-high 128 pitches Tuesday against Milwaukee in his second nine-inning shutout of the season.

Teheran lowered his ERA to 1.77, second-best among major league starters behind the Cubs' winless Jeff Samardzija (1.46). Teheran is 2-0 with an 0.39 ERA in his past three home starts, with 13 hits and one run allowed in 23 innings.

Upton's homer was his 13th overall and majors-leading 10th at home, one more than Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Upton has hit .376 in 27 home games, and .195 with three homers in 20 road games.

Teheran gave up consecutive singles by hot-hitting Charlie Blackmon and Michael Cuddyer to start the game, then induced a pop-up by major league batting leader Troy Tulowitzki and a fly-out by Carlos Gonzalez before striking out Justin Morneau to end the inning with no damage done.

After two more Rockies reached consecutively in the second inning on a one-out single and a Tyler Pastornicky error, Teheran retired the next 12 batters before Tulowitzki's one-out walk in the sixth. Morneau added a sixth-inning single before Teheran struck out Wilin Rosario to end the inning.

The first three Braves home runs came against left-hander Franklin Morales (3-4), who gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings as his ERA crept to 5.65.

As it turned out, Gattis' home run to straightaway center on a 2-and-2 fastball in the second inning was enough offense, but he pounded a hanging slider to the left-field seats in the fourth for good measure. It was Gattis' second game back in the lineup after missing four starts recovering from a viral illness.

The Braves lead the majors with 10 home runs from catchers this season, and all 10 have come from Gattis in his 124 at-bats at the position. Third catcher Ryan Doumit also has a homer, but it came as a pinch-hitter.

Gattis hit two home runs April 14 at Philadelphia, part of a three-game tear in which he was 9-for-13 with three homers and five RBIs. But in his past 27 games before Sunday, he had batted .182 (16-for-88) with four homers and 23 strikeouts.

The 250-pound catcher unloaded some recent frustrations upon Morales with a pair of long balls that left the yard quickly.

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