Johan Camargo’s stock soared earlier this season and he provided a reminder why on a Saturday night when Braves rookies came up big, none more than he.
Camargo’s two-out, two-run pinch-hit double in the eighth inning lifted the Braves to a 4-2 win against the Phillies in the penultimate home game of the season at SunTrust Park.
Julio Teheran pitched seven solid innings and the Braves overcame a 2-0 deficit with a homer from rookie Rio Ruiz in the sixth inning and three runs driven in by rookies Dansby Swanson and Camargo in the eighth, the latter increasing the Braves’ pinch-hit RBI total to a majors-leading 48.
“They’ve been great,” Teheran said of the team’s rookies. “They’ve been competing. They’ve been getting good at-bats and that’s huge.”
Camargo went on the disabled list for four weeks after a freak accident Aug. 9 when he sustained a bone bruise in his knee after hyperestending it reaching to pick up dirt as he trotted onto the field before the first inning, a pregame ritual he’s since abandoned.
“Really it was just kind of about starting from scratch,” said Camargo, who’s 17-for-43 (.395) with four doubles, a homer and eight RBIs in 13 games since returning from the DL. “Once it happened I just started from zero and worked my way up. I never got frustrated and I think that was key to it. I never lost hope.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “I can’t say enough about him, from last year at spring training (to now), how much he’s grown mentally, physically, the whole thing. And he’s such a versatile kid, too.”
Teheran allowed seven hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk with five strikeouts in seven innings. He got no decision to finish 3-10 with a 6.86 ERA in 17 home starts, compared to 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 14 road starts with one to go Thursday at Miami.
But his performance down the stretch was encouraging for the Braves and their opening-day pitcher, who seemed to get past any mental hurdles that cropped up during his earlier home-park struggles.
After going 0-9 with a 7.36 ERA and 15 homers allowed in 12 home starts over a four-month stretch from April 19 through Aug. 19, Teheran went 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and two homers allowed in his last four home starts.
“It was a little struggle at the beginning but it’s huge,” Teheran said of his home improvement. “And that’s something that I want to keep doing next season. We were worried because I wanted to do good, especially in the park that we play in most, and I’m glad that I found a way. We just have to keep going.”
Teheran is 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in his past eight starts overall including five at SunTrust, and in his final inning Saturday he induced an Odubel Herrera ground-out with bases loaded in the seventh inning to keep the Braves’ deficit at 2-1.
“Hats off to him,” Snitker said. “He’s one of those pros that prepares between every start. He’s one of those guys you watch and admire how he goes about it, how professional he is. He’s got one more (start) so hopefully he goes out with a bang.”
One night after starting the first inning with six consecutive hits, the Braves had just five hits in five innings against Phillies starter Henderson Alvarez, who came in with a 7.20 ERA and didn’t allow a run against the Braves. The Braves didn’t score until Ruiz’s sixth-inning homer off left-hander Kevin Siegrist.
The Phillies grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nick Williams hit a two-out single and scored on rookie phenom Rhys Hoskins’ double. Teheran recorded 10 outs in the 10 next batters – including a second-inning Cameron Rupp double play grounder after a J.P Crawford single – before Maikel Franco led off the fifth inning with an infield single and Crawford followed with a walk.
Franco advanced on a ground-out and scored on a passed ball charged to Tyler Flowers when Alvarez swung on an inside pitch that went to the backstop.
The Braves had scoring chances against Alvarez. Matt Adams flied out to the warning track with two on to end the first inning and Teheran grounded out with bases loaded to end the fourth inning. They failed to score after putting runners on the corners with one out in the fourth and after doing that again in the fifth.
But once Alvarez left the game, the Braves did what they’ve done often this season – their offense awakened in the later innings.
Ruiz homered off Siegrist in the sixth, the rookie third baseman’s fourth major league home run and 20th homer of the season including Triple-A. Ruiz has just 11 major league at-bats against lefties, but has five hits including two homers in those limited opportunities.
“It felt good to get us on the board,” Ruiz said. “It was a heck of a game. I wasn’t able to drive Flow (Flowers) in earlier in the game, so I was glad was able to drive something in.”
Adams put the tying run on base when he singled with one out in the eighth against right-hander Luiz Garcia. Pinch-runner Micah Johnson replaced Adams and stole second base, and Swanson drove him in with a single to right field. If right fielder Nick Williams’ throw had been cut off by first baseman Hoskins, Johnson might have been thrown out at the plate, but he let the bouncing throw go through.
Ruiz was walked intentionally and Lane Adams struck out for the second out before Camargo stepped up and came through with a double to center field that drove in both runners for a 4-2 lead.
“Dansby had a heck of an at-bat to get Micah in and Micah made a heck of a slide,” Ruiz said. “And them Margo – that dude’s unbelievable. He gets better and better ever single day.”
After losing 12 of their first 14 games against the Phillies, the Braves have won their past four against the National League East’s last-place team.
“It was a good overall game, well played, high energy,” Snitker said. “Those guys were getting after it tonight.”
The Braves need to go 3-6 or better in their last nine games to avoid a third consecutive 90-loss season. Their only streaks of more than two consecutive 90-loss seasons since moving to Atlanta were in 1975-79 (five seasons) and 1987-1990 (four seasons).