ATLANTA — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t regret calling out Milwaukee reliever Will Smith for breaking a rule that some pitchers might break every night.
“It was about as plain as it could be,” Gonzalez said. “It’s pretty blatant. Really. It’s glistening through the lights. You could see it in the dugout.”
Julio Teheran pitched seven strong innings and the Atlanta Braves took advantage of Smith’s seventh-inning ejection for using rosin and sunscreen illegally in a 10-1 victory Thursday night.
Play was stopped briefly with Atlanta leading 2-1 and the bases loaded with one out in the seventh when Gonzalez successfully argued that Smith had a foreign substance on his right forearm.
Crew chief Jim Joyce walked over to the mound, touched a shiny substance on Smith’s arm and ejected the pitcher from the game. Gonzalez claimed that Smith was breaking the rules after the left-hander threw a pitch that bounced in front of the plate and hit pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco in the leg.
After Smith made one pitch to the next batter, Jace Peterson, Gonzalez walked onto the field.
“I never went out there until he went to it (his arm),” Gonzalez said. “You can look at the video. That’s when I went out to the home plate umpire to check.”
Smith was furious at Gonzalez but also blamed himself for not wiping it off before entering the game.
“It was chilly and kind of windy,” Smith said. “I had rosin and sunscreen on my arm. I just forgot to wipe it off before I went out and pitched. I had to kind of get ready in a hurry. I just forgot. That’s it.”
Smith added that the only purpose of using rosin and sunscreen is to help him feel the ball better.
“That’s it. It’s the grip,” he said. “It’s not going to spin more. You’re not going to throw harder. You’ve got what you got.”
The Braves have won five of six. Milwaukee has dropped four of six.
Teheran (4-1) allowed two hits, one run, one walk and struck out eight in seven innings.
Christian Bethancourt’s RBI single chased Brewers starter Matt Garza (2-6) with one out in the seventh. After Smith hit Ciriaco, the next two pitchers — Neal Cotts and Michael Blazek — combined to allow RBI singles to Jace Peterson and Freddie Freeman, Cameron Maybin’s two-run single and Nick Markakis’ RBI double.
Freeman scored the last run of the inning when Jonny Gomes, batting for the second time in the seventh, reached on a throwing error by second baseman Hector Gomez.
“Every pitcher does it,” Freeman said. “As a hitter, you want them to do it so they’ll have a better grip so we won’t get hit in the head.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell believes Gonzalez has pitchers on his staff that use the same substance to help them grip the ball.
“It’s very common,” Counsell said. “It goes on on the other side, I guarantee you. It’s the rule. I think pitchers are using it but I guess you’ve got to be discreet about it.”
Joyce told a pool reporter that he had no choice but to eject Smith.
“I’m not going to make (the ejection) dramatic, because it is what it is and it’s clear cut,” Joyce said. “Like I told Craig, ‘I have no recourse. This is immediate and fatal, unfortunately.’”
Garza allowed five hits, four runs, two walks and struck out three in 6 1-3 innings, dropping to 0-4 with a 4.93 ERA in six career starts against Atlanta. He was coming off a 14-1 loss last Saturday in which he allowed 10 hits and 10 runs at the New York Mets.
Brewers: Counsell said SS Jean Segura, out since May 13 with a broken finger on his right hand, could be getting closer to his return. “When we get back home (to begin a four-game series against the Giants on Monday), that’s probably going to be the big day,” Counsell said.
Braves: 3B Chris Johnson, sidelined since April 30 with a broken left hand, could return next Thursday at San Francisco. Gonzalez said Johnson will have five at-bats in extended spring training Friday, take batting practice on Saturday, rejoin the Braves for batting practice Sunday and then have a rehab assignment in three games next week.
Brewers: RHP Wily Peralta (1-5) is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta, but gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings of a 5-1 loss to the Mets on Sunday.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood (2-2) is 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance against Milwaukee. Wood gave up seven hits and one run in a 5-3 win at Miami on Saturday.