WASHINGTON (AP) — The Braves knew they were entering a pitcher’s duel. However, Atlanta starter Julio Teheran never found the comfortable rhythm Washington counterpart Doug Fister settled in to.
Fister pitched eight shutout innings and outlasted Teheran as the Nationals beat the Braves 3-0 victory on Saturday night.
Atlanta had moved into first place in the NL East after continuing their dominance over Washington by winning the first two of the four-game series. They fell a half-game behind the Nationals due to miscommunication between Teheran and catcher Evan Gattis, and the brilliance of Fister.
Atlanta had won five straight against the Nationals, seven of eight this season, and 20 of 27 since the start of the 2013 campaign.
Teheran (6-5) struck out a season-high 10 batters. He allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Fister (6-2) gave up five hits — three over his final seven innings — with three strikeouts and one walk.
Gattis extended his major-league leading hitting streak to 20 games with a sixth-inning single.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
“We knew we had a battle going on and he’s one of the best guys,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Fister. “He had all of his pitches working.”
What the Braves didn’t have working was cohesion between pitcher and catcher. While Fister worked quickly, Teheran went the deliberate route, though not by design.
“We were going multiple signs, and I think a couple of times (Julio) wasn’t quick enough to get back to what he wanted,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been doing it for awhile but sometimes it takes a little longer to get back to what he wanted after the shake off.”
Anthony Rendon had three hits including an RBI single in the third that gave Washington its first lead of the series. His run-scoring double in the seventh made it 3-0. Ryan Zimmerman also drove in a run.
Teheran, who frequently stepped off the mound during his outing, struck out the side in the fifth inning trailing 1-0.
“(Gattis) was shaking (me off) and that’s when the frustration (began) because I wanted the pitch that I was thinking and I wasn’t on the same page,” Teheran said.
After walking Adam LaRoche in the sixth, and with a 1-0 count on Zimmerman, Teheran again shuffled around. He stepped toward home plate and was immediately called for a balk.
Two pitches later, Zimmerman’s single drove home LaRoche for a 2-0 lead.
“Yeah that was my fault,” Teheran said of the balk. “I made the move, and if we aren’t on the same page I’m the one that has to step up and talk to (the catcher).”
Fister, who has won six of seven starts, has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of nine outings this season.
Atlanta had back-to-back one-out singles in the first inning, but Fister fought back. He got out of the jam and started a streak of nine straight batters retired. He didn’t allow another hit until the fifth inning in front of a sellout crowd.
NOTES: Justin Upton went 0 for 3 in his return to Atlanta’s starting lineup. The left fielder missed three games due to dizziness caused by “a real bad case of allergies,” Gonzalez said. … Zimmerman entered Saturday batting .197 since returning from the disabled list on June 3. … RHP Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.12) will pitch the series finale for Atlanta on Sunday against RHP Tanner Roark (6-4, 2.85).
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