MILWAUKEE – Rowdy Tellez hit a foul ball off Charlie Morton, with the score tied at zero. Then he looked into the cave, took a deep breath, and tried his luck with the next pitch.
And he did just what the Brewers needed.
Tellez spoiled Morton’s pitching jewel by hitting a two-run homer in the seventh inning, and Milwaukee beat the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday night in the start of the NL Division Series.
“I’m still out of breath. It was a crazy moment,” said Téllez, who also helped with a shot that removed a man at home plate.
Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader combined for a four-hitter that gave Milwaukee an early lead in this series to up to five games. The second game is scheduled for this Saturday in Milwaukee.
Former Milwaukee player Orlando Arcia hit a grounder to second base with runners on the corners to end the game. That ground shot came after catcher Omar Narváez, also Venezuelan, blocked a pitching by Hader with a 1-2 count almost to the ground, to prevent Freddie Freeman from advancing from third base.
Narváez had teamed up with first baseman Tellez for a crucial first-inning double play.
Neither club produced much from the wood until the seventh inning, when the Brewers woke up.
Morton (0-1) hit Garcia with a 1-2 count early in the inning. Then, Téllez found an offer with the same account and sent the ball over the wall in center field, to break the 0-0 tie.
“Even in those innings, I put the hitters in the situation that I wanted,” Morton said. “I just couldn’t finish them off. I hit Avi and then gave Rowdy a ball as a gift.”
Tellez was 1-for-13 against the Braves this season, until he hit his 411-foot club, which came after hitting a foul ball.
“I don’t know if I broke the bat,” he said. “I saw something fly off the bat and I thought, ‘Now I’ll need all the help I can. I took a step back and the bat boy didn’t even notice. So I just calmed down, went back to the batter’s box and said,’ I have to plant my feet, watch the shot and hit him hard. That was all I wanted to do. “
The bearded slugger emerged from the disabled list Saturday after missing about three weeks with a strained right knee.
Joc Pederson hit a pinch homer off Houser (1-0), with two outs in the eighth inning, to bring the Braves closer.
Morton’s pitch to Téllez was his 85th and final. It was among the few mistakes he made all day.
He struck out nine, walked and hit a batter to continue his recent string of great postseason performances.
Burnes looked just as sharp in what was his first postseason start.
A Cy Young trophy candidate, Burnes started the game with two straight walks and threw 40 pitches in the first two innings, but then settled down.
The right-hander struck out six, allowed two hits and walked three in six shutout innings, during which he pitched 91.
For the Braves, Cuban Jorge Soler 3-0. Puerto Rican Eddie Rosario 3-1. The Venezuelan Arcia 1-0.
For the Brewers, Willy Adames 4-1. Venezuelans Garcia 3-0 with a scored, Eduardo Escobar 3-1, Narváez 3-1.