Rowdy Tellez’s home run, throw lift Brewers to Game 1 win over Braves in NLDS
Rowdy Tellez spoiled Charlie Morton’s gem with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and threw out a runner at home plate, leading the Milwaukee Brewers over the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday in the opener of their National League Division Series.
Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader combined on a four-hitter that gave the Brewers the early lead in this best-of-five series. Game 2 is Saturday in Milwaukee.
Former Brewer Orlando Arcia grounded to second with runners on the corners to end the game. That came after Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez — who combined with first baseman Tellez on a key first-inning double play — blocked Hader’s 1-2 pitch in the dirt to keep Freddie Freeman at third base.
Neither team produced much offense until the Brewers finally broke through in the seventh.
After Morton (0-1) hit Avisail Garcia with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning, Tellez ripped another 1-2 offering from Morton over the center-field wall to break a scoreless tie. The hefty, bearded slugger had gone one for 13 against the Braves this season until delivering that 411-foot drive.
“I’m still out of breath,” Tellez said. “It was a crazy moment.”
Buster Posey, Kris Bryant and Brandon Crawford each hit home runs to power the San Francisco Giants to a 4-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Tellez was activated from the injured list Saturday after missing about three weeks because of a right patella strain.
“It was a tight timetable,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We knew it was going to be tight. We were fortunate that he got himself healthy. The training staff did a heck of a job.”
Ex-Dodger Joc Pederson lofted a pinch-hit homer off Houser (1-0) with two outs in the eighth for Atlanta.
Morton’s 85th and final pitch to Tellez was among the few mistakes he made all day. He struck out nine, walked one and hit a batter to continue his recent history of exceptional postseason performances.
“Even in those at-bats, I got them where I wanted to be,” Morton said. “I just didn’t finish them off. I hit Avi, and then I grooved one to Rowdy.”
Burnes was every bit as good in his first career postseason start.
The NL Cy Young Award contender opened the game with two consecutive walks and threw 40 pitches in the first two innings but settled down from there. The right-hander struck out six and gave up two hits and three walks in six scoreless innings, throwing 91 pitches.
“They’re an aggressive offense,” Burnes said. “That was kind of the key tonight was to try to play off of that. We were just trying to do too much early on.”
After the Braves put runners on the corners with nobody out but failed to score in the top of the first, nobody got a runner past first base until Tellez homered.
Neither team had a hit until Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain’s one-out single to right in the third. The Braves’ first hit off Burnes came when Eddie Rosario led off the fifth with a bloop single to center.
Atlanta’s best scoring chance came at the start of the game.
Burnes walked the first two batters he faced — Jorge Soler and Freeman — with Soler advancing to third base on a passed ball.
Ozzie Albies followed with a sharp grounder down the first base line that Tellez caught just before stepping on the bag. When he noticed Soler was trying to score from third, Tellez threw to the plate.
Narvaez caught the one-hop throw and tagged Soler to complete the double play.
“I made a terrible throw,” Tellez said. “I’ve got a good catcher back there. He’s an All-Star for a reason. Made a great tag. That whole play doesn’t happen without him.”
Carlos Correa hit a two-run double during Houston’s five-run seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 9-4 for a 2-0 lead in their ALDS.
The Braves didn’t get many more opportunities as Milwaukee used its loaded starting rotation to compensate for its lack of bullpen depth.
The Brewers are playing this series without setup man Devin Williams and left-handed reliever Brent Suter. Williams fractured his throwing hand when he punched a wall the night Milwaukee clinched the NL Central, and Suter has a strained right oblique.
Without those two in the bullpen, the Brewers had Houser work two innings to set things up for Hader. Houser spent the regular season in Milwaukee’s rotation.
Up next, left-hander Max Fried (14-7, 3.04) starts for the Braves and All-Star right-hander Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) pitches for the Brewers on Saturday. Fried has gone 7-0 with a 1.46 ERA over his last 11 starts.
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