Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By CORY McCARTNEY  |  Last updated 8/18/13
ATLANTA -- The Braves' domination of the Nationals continues. With a starting lineup that included just three regulars -- Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson and B.J. Upton -- and saw recent call-up Philip Gosselin get his first two hits, Atlanta improved to 12-4 against its National League East rival, extended the division lead to 15 12 games and made it seven consecutive series wins overall. Here are three observations as the MLB-best Braves (76-48) beat Washington 2-1 Sunday at Turner Field: 1. Another Teheran HBP, minus the accompanying tension A day -- or more appropriately given how long Saturday's 15-inning marathon lasted, a few hours -- after their latest hit batsmanwild pitch drama, the National League East rivals were back at it again. Braves starter Julio Teheran went inside on the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and hit him on the left elbow with a 90-mph fastball to lead off the third inning, marking the 11th time someone has been plunked in 16 meetings. But there was no retaliation this time, no tense atmosphere. There was ... nothing. "It's over with," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "It's two boys playing in the sandlot out in the schoolyard and I think it's over with. Both teams have respect for each other. There's a lot of good players on that club and we have a lot of good players. I don't see anything going on the rest of the time." That could be the case. Or maybe it had something to do with the late night they all shared the previous game or that Washington manager Davey Johnson was ejected Saturday after Stephen Strasburg threw three wild pitches, two of which went behind Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons' back. Both Johnson and his pitcher could be facing discipline from Major League Baseball for the incident. But let's not read too much into Sunday's HBP, because it was likely just a case of Teheran being Teheran. Rendon made it 13 batters Teheran has hit this season, which is tops in the NL by three over the Pirates' Charlie Morton and three behind the MLB leaders, Doug Fister (Tigers) and Justin Masterson (Indians), who both have 15. Teheran nearly made it 14 as he came close to plunking Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez with a fastball that seemed to get away from him in the top of the sixth inning with a runner at second. If there was one issue the 22-year-old faced coming into the season it was in placing his fastball, something that plagued him last season. He's actually thrown it just 46.8 percent of the year after avearging percentages of 62.8 and 66.7 in his appearances over the last two seasons, relying more on a slider that proven his most effective weapon with 2.3 runs saved with that pitch compared to minus-0.6 with his fastball. None of this is to insinuate that Teheran did or didn't mean to hit Bryce Harper with a first-pitch fastball a little under two weeks ago in D.C., but pitches can get away from pitchers, especially ones that try and live on the outside edges of the plate. Another HBP aside, the end result was another victory as Teheran overcame allowing the first two batters to reach in innings 1-3, retiring 13 of the last 15 batters he faced before exiting after six innings. He struck out five and walked three, improving to 10-6. "Not give in, that's a good trait to have," Gonzalez said of Teheran. "He keeps pitching and other than stressful innings and high pitch counts, I think he's maturing in the right direction." 2. Johnson continues to have his way with Gio It's no surprising statement that the Gio Gonzalez we're seeing in 2013 just isn't the same pitcher who won 21 games a year ago and finished third in the National League Cy Young balloting. He came into Sunday having not won in his last five outings with a 5.19 ERA and a .308 batting average against. As much as Gonzalez (7-6) has struggled all season, no team has gotten to him quite like the Atlanta -- he's 0-4 against the Braves with a 5.10 ERA, the highest of any team that has faced him more than once, and a 1.40 WHIP -- and few Braves have had as much success vs. Gonzalez than Chris Johnson. The NL's batting leader (.335) took Gonzalez's 94-mph four-seam fastball and turned it into a soft line drive to right field, scoring Philip Gosselin as part of Atlanta's two-run first inning. Johnson would go 1 for 3 to increase his season average in their matchups to .400 (6 for 15) with four RBI. He came into 2013 hitless in three plate appearances vs. Gonzalez. 3. Not the happiest of birthdays Evan Gattis turned 27 Sunday and the rookie's first birthday in a Braves uniform wasn't exactly a celebration. He grounded into a double play in his first at-bat and making his 23rd start at left field, had a miscommunication with Paul Janish on Adam LaRoche's popup single (though it would turn into an out as Janish threw out Anthony Rendon at third base) -- and then in his second plate appearance he would cost Gosselin his first stolen base in an odd sequence. Gattis typically steps forward on the follow through on his violent swing and when he did so when striking out against Gonzalez, he was called for batter interference as Gosselin was attempting to steal second base. He went 0 for 3 for the day with a strikeout.
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