Julio Teheran allowed two hits over four innings by making quick work of the Tampa Bay Rays’ starters in the Braves’ 5-0 win Monday.
Teheran’s only base runner was James Loney, who doubled in the top of the fourth inning.
“I felt a lot better than last time,” Teheran said, reference Wednesday’s game, in which he allowed two runs on three hits.
“I think all my pitches were much better, and even though I had a couple of mistakes, I still have two weeks that I can work on it.”
Teheran gave up his first hit with two outs in the third when Nick Franklin hit a liner to centerfield, but Franklin was thrown out by Michael Bourn when trying to stretch it to a double.
“Someone said they saw the (radar) gun (for Teheran) hit 94, but he was right around 92, so that’s what we want to see,” Braves manager Fredi González said. “He looked really sharp, and now we’ll look forward to his next start.”
Rays starter Chris Archer struggled early, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched at Champion Stadium. Archer would finish strong by striking out Adonis Garcia, who was pinch hitting for Teheran.
“From the second through the fifth I felt like myself,” Archer said. “I felt better from pitch 35 to 72 than I did for the first 25. Maybe that’s a hint I need to throw more in the bullpen or whatever. I felt stronger (in the fifth) and, to me, it was a win if I could pitch into the fourth.”
Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman both drove in runs for the Braves. On Freeman’s RBI in the third inning, Gordon Beckham scored after had reached second when Rays’ left-fielder Jaff Decker dropped a fly ball.
Decker redeemed himself with a leaping catch in the bottom of the sixth to rob Reid Brignac of a three-run homer, though Hector Olivera scored on the sacrifice fly.
The five Braves relievers that followed Teheran allowed the Rays just one more hit; Decker dropped a bunt single on Jim Johnson in the fifth.
Manager Kevin Cash named Archer the opening day starter for the Rays’ April 3 game against Toronto.
It’s Archer’s second consecutive opening day. Last season, RHP Alex Cobb was on the DL with right forearm tendinitis, and he later had season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Archer, who was 12-13 in 2015 with a 3.23 ERA and struck out a team-record 252 batters, finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting in his first All-Star season.
“It happened last year, but not under the best circumstances,” Archer said. “To be the one to earn it for the 2016 season is really nice. . When (Cash) told me, ‘I know you had an idea, but it’s still an accomplishment — don’t forget that,’ it was him telling me not to take it for granted. People pitch their whole lives and never accomplish it.”
Cash said of Archer: “There’s a lot of obvious No. 1’s out there. He belongs out there on that day.”
Archer relishes the idea of getting the first start of the season.
“(Pitching coach) Jim Hickey likes to call to call a season a 3,000-pitch masterpiece,” Archer said, “and the first stroke is going to be thrown on April 3 at 4:05 p.m. I’m going to be the one to make the first stroke and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Archer’s final spring training start will be against the Blue Jays on March 29.