Rowdy Tellez spoiled Charlie Morton’s jewel with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and knocked out a running back at the plate, leading the Milwaukee Brewers over the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday in Game 1 of his National League Division Series.
Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader combined in a four-hit game that gave Milwaukee 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 Narváez, who combined with first baseman Téllez on a key double play in the first inning, blocked a 1-2 pitch from Hader on the ground to keep Freddie Freeman in the third. base.
Neither team produced much offense until the Brewers finally broke through in the seventh.
After Charlie Morton (0-1) hit Avisail Garcia with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning, Téllez ripped off another 1-2 offer from Morton on the center-field wall to break a scoreless tie. The burly, bearded slugger had gone 1-for-13 against the Braves this season to make that 411-foot run.
Tellez was activated from the disabled list Saturday after missing about three weeks with a strained right kneecap.
Atlanta’s Joc Pederson hit a pinch homer off Houser (1-0) with two outs in the eighth.
Morton’s 85th and final pitch to Tellez was one of 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.
Burnes was just as good in his first career postseason start.
The NL Cy Young award contender opened the game with two straight walks and threw 40 pitches in the first two innings, but calmed down from there. The right-hander struck out six and allowed two hits and three walks in six scoreless innings, throwing 91 pitches.
After the Braves put runners in the corners with no out but failed to score in the top of the first, no one got a runner past first base until Tellez homered.
Neither team had a hit to Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain one-out single to right field in the third. The Braves’ first hit off Burnes came when Eddie Rosario led off the fifth with a single to center.
Atlanta’s best scoring opportunity came early in the game.
Burnes walked the first two batters he faced, Jorge Soler and Freeman, with Soler advancing to third with a pass.
Ozzie Albies followed with a strong roll down the first base line that Téllez caught just before he hit the bag. When he noticed that Soler was trying to score from third, Téllez threw at the plate.
Narváez caught the jump shot and touched Soler to complete the double play.
The Braves didn’t get many more chances as Milwaukee used their loaded starting rotation to make up for their lack of depth in the bullpen.
Milwaukee is playing this series without setter Devin Williams and left-handed reliever Brent Suter. Williams broke his pitching hand when he hit a wall the night the Brewers took over 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 the Milwaukee rotation.