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Teheran returns to form in pitchers' duel
Braves' top prospect strikes out nine, has one difficult inning
08/26/2012 12:24 AM ET
Julio Teheran had nine strikeouts for the second time in three starts.
Julio Teheran had nine strikeouts for the second time in three starts. (Kyle Hess/Gwinnett Braves)
Julio Teheran has faltered at times this season, and a .500 record with an ERA above 5.00 is not the ideal stat line for an ace. But it's starts like the one he made on Saturday night that remind everyone why he's considered baseball's top prospect.

Teheran tied a season high with nine strikeouts and yielded just a run on two hits over eight innings in Triple-A Gwinnett's 1-0 loss to visiting Syracuse.

The only problematic inning for the Braves' No. 1 prospectwas the third. After Zach Walters drew a one-out walk, Jarrett Hoffpauir was hit by a pitch and pitcher John Lannan reached on a throwing error by catcher J.C. Boscan. Teheran got Eury Perez, the Nationals' No. 5 prospect, to ground into a double play that scored Walters with the game's only run.

The 21-year-old right-hander allowed singles in the fourth and fifth but retired the side in order in five of his eight innings.

"He was bound and determined from the get-go, and I could tell he had good stuff," Braves manager Dave Brundage told the Gwinnett Daily Post. "He commanded his fastball, worked well inside and threw a lot of strikes. He's moving in the right direction and tonight he showed what he was capable of doing."

Teheran's potential is unquestioned, but that has not translated to success on the mound this season. After going 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 appearances for Gwinnett last year, the native of Colombia is 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA through 25 starts.

He came into Saturday on the heels of perhaps his worst start of the season, getting shelled for seven runs on nine hits in two-plus innings on Aug. 14. But Teheran has shown flashes of brilliance, allowing one run or fewer over seven or more innings on five occasions.

The right-hander got another taste of the big leagues on June 10 when he gave up four runs on four hits over 4 1/3 against the Blue Jays.

On Saturday, Teheran was outpitched by someone with considerably more Major League experience. Lannan (8-11) tossed a three-hitter for his second complete game of the season and first shutout since the 2009 season.

Boscan was the only Brave to experience any success against the veteran left-hander, going 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. He led off the ninth with a single and pinch-runner Felix Pie moved up on a sacrifice by Jose Constanza before Lannan retired Luis Durango on a ground ball and got Josh Wilson to fly to center field.

"[Lannan] threw a lot of first-pitch strikes," Brundage told the newspaper. "He forced us to swing early in the count and he recorded a lot of easy outs."

Zack Cox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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