LOS ANGELES -- By the second inning Sunday, in manager Fredi Gonzalez's words, Braves starter Julio Teheran was playing near "a gas tank with a lighted match." Teheran's fastball command, such a point of emphasis heading into the game, was scattered. And the Dodgers took advantage in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
By the third inning, Teheran was out of the game, banished from his first career postseason start. He had given up six runs and recorded only eight outs, dropping the Braves in what would become a 13-6 loss -- and, more importantly, a 2-1 deficit in this best-of-five series.
"I felt the difference," Teheran said after becoming, at age 22, the first Colombian-born pitcher to appear in October. "I was a little excited about this game. I didn't have my best, and I tried my best. It was just one of those games that you do everything, and things don't go as you expect."
From the start, Teheran was shaky, giving up a leadoff single to Carl Crawford and throwing a wild pitch in a scoreless first inning. Things only unraveled from there. Two hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly led to one run in the second inning, before Crawford gave the Dodgers their first lead with a three-run homer.
"That's definitely a big one for me to take the lead right there, and get the team some momentum going into the rest of the game," Crawford said. "It was huge for us."
Gonzalez bemoaned that Teheran "just left some balls out over the plate and made some mistakes," more of which came when Adrian Gonzalez and Skip Schumaker tagged Teheran for RBI hits in the third. With the sold-out crowd worked into a lather, Gonzalez finally came to retrieve Teheran from the mound with two outs and two men on base.
"I don't think the emotions or the crowd or anything had anything to do with it," Teheran said. "I think we just had some mistakes."
Coming into the night, Teheran had arguably been Atlanta's best pitcher, going 14-8 with a 2.81 ERA since April 23 -- a span of 27 starts. In doing so, he threw far more innings than ever before in his career, but he had a full week of rest heading into his first postseason start. The Braves liked their chances.
Now those chances have slimmed considerably. Teheran will only receive another playoff start if the Braves make the NL Championship Series, which will require two straight victories over the Dodgers. It was hardly the situation Teheran envisioned when he first climbed atop the Dodger Stadium mound Sunday.
"Julio came out with a really good fastball," catcher Brian McCann said. "He just didn't get into a groove. That's all I can say. He's a great pitcher with a bright future. He's going to pitch at the top of the rotation for a long, long time."