ATLANTA — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is ready for his team to snap out of an offensive funk.
“Looking into the next few weeks, that’s what we’re looking for,” Gonzalez said. “We need to get back to swinging the bats and scoring some runs.”
Atlanta had just four hits and Julio Teheran couldn’t make it through the seventh inning of a 4-0 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Despite scoring only five runs in losing two of three to San Diego, the Braves lead the NL East by 10 games over Washington.
They open a three-game series at Nationals Park tonight and can clinch the division with two wins.
“I think it’s kind of been the idea around this place the whole year,” catcher Evan Gattis said. “It’s kind of, ‘We’re coming at you.’ We lost a game today. We’ll play tomorrow.”
Burch Smith struck out 10 in seven innings to earn his first major league victory and Chase Headley and Tommy Medica homered for San Diego.
Smith (1-1) held the Braves hitless until Teheran singled to lead off the sixth.
Smith allowed three hits and walked two. The rookie made his fifth career start – he had a 12.41 ERA in his previous starts.
He struck out seven of the first 13 batters for Atlanta, which has been shut out 14 times, second-most in the NL.
Gonzalez was disappointed that the Braves’ bats were quiet most of the weekend. Atlanta scored just three runs in the series and lost two of three.
“I thought (Teheran) pitched well enough for him to deserve a better opportunity to win the ballgame, if that makes any sense,” Gonzalez said.
Teheran (12-8) gave up seven hits, four runs, no walks and struck out six in 6⅔ innings.
Gonzalez pulled him with two outs in the seventh after Burch bunted into a forceout.
“I felt like I had my best stuff today,” Teheran said. “I felt like all my pitches were working. It was one of those games that (somebody) has to lose.”
Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single and Headley’s 13th homer in the sixth gave the Padres a 3-0 lead.
Medica, who homered off Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee last Wednesday for his first career hit, led off the seventh with his second homer to make it 4-0.
Even though the slider Teheran threw to Headley landed in the right-field seats, he didn’t regret the pitch selection.
“Yeah that was the pitch that I wanted to throw,” Teheran said. “I asked him also if it was a good pitch (as Teheran stood at third base in the bottom half of the inning), and he told me that it was a good pitch. I said, ‘OK, you got me this time.’ “
After Teheran left, reliever Scott Downs gave up a double to Will Venable that advanced Burch to third. After pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia walked to load the bases, Downs struck out Gyorko to end the threat.
Smith retired the first 11 batters before Freddie Freeman walked in the fourth. Freeman moved to second when Smith made a wild pickoff throw, but Gattis struck out.
“I think it was a really good mix of pitches today but primarily the fastball-change combo was effective for Burch,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. “I think he came out with nice, smooth delivery, didn’t try to do too much but kept his velocity up until the fifth, sixth inning, I think it backed up a little bit.”
Padres closer Huston Street pitched the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single to Freeman before retiring the next three batters.
Teheran had retired 14 straight batters before Venable singled to begin the sixth. One out later, Venable stole second and scored on Gyorko’s single.
Mike Minor, the scheduled starter for Monday, will try to beat Washington for the first time since Sept. 16, 2012. He has no record and a 7.04 ERA in two starts in the season series, but the Braves are 12-4 against the Nationals this year.
“They’re swinging it pretty good,” Gonzalez said of Washington. “As long as we pitch, I think our bats will come around because they have all year.”