MILWAUKEE – Rowdy Tellez spoiled Charlie Morton’s gem with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and threw out a runner at home plate, leading the Milwaukee Brewers over the Atlanta Braves 2-1 Friday in the opener of their NL Division Series.
Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader combined on a four-hitter 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 Tellez on a key first-inning double play — blocked Hader’s 1-2 pitch in the dirt to keep Freddie Freeman at third base.
Neither team produced much offense until the Brewers finally broke through in the seventh.
After Charlie Morton (0-1) hit Avisaíl García with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning, Tellez ripped another 1-2 offering from Morton over the center-field wall to break a scoreless tie. The hefty, bearded slugger had gone 1 of 13 against the Braves this season until delivering that 411-foot drive.
Tellez was activated from the injured list Saturday after missing about three weeks with a right patella strain.
Atlanta’s Joc Pederson lofted a pinch-hit homer off Houser (1-0) with two outs in the eighth.
Morton’s 85th and final pitch to Tellez was among 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 every bit 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 settled down from there. The right-hander struck out six and gave up two hits and three walks in six shutout innings, throwing 91 pitches.
After the Braves put runners on the corners with nobody out but failed to score in the top of the first, nobody got a runner past first base until Tellez homered.
Neither team had a hit until Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain’s one-out single to right in the third. The Braves’ first hit off Burnes came when Eddie Rosario led off the fifth with a bloop single to center.
Atlanta’s best scoring chance came at the very start of the game.
Burnes walked the first two batters he faced — Jorge Soler and Freeman — with Soler advancing to third on a passed ball.
Ozzie Albies followed with a sharp grounder down the first-base line that Tellez caught just before stepping on the bag. When he noticed Soler was trying to score from third, Tellez threw to the plate.
Narváez caught the one-hop throw and tagged Soler to complete the double play.
The Braves didn’t get many more opportunities as Milwaukee used its loaded starting rotation to compensate for its lack of bullpen depth.
Milwaukee is playing this series without setup man Devin Williams and left-handed reliever Brent Suter. Williams fractured his throwing hand when he punched a wall the night the Brewers clinched 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 Milwaukee’s rotation.
Left-hander Max Fried (14-7, 3.04) starts for the Braves and All-Star right-hander Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) pitches for the Brewers on Saturday. Fried has gone 7-0 with a 1.46 ERA over his last 11 starts.