MILWAUKEE (AP) — Rowdy Tellez fouled off Charlie Morton’s pitch in a scoreless game, then headed toward the dugout for a deep breath and a new bat.
Just the break the Milwaukee Brewers needed.
Tellez spoiled Morton’s gem by hitting a two-run homer in the seventh inning, leading the Brewers over the Atlanta Braves 2-1 Friday in the opener of their NL Division Series.
“I’m still out of breath,” Tellez said. “It was a crazy moment.”
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 Milwaukee 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 Morton (0-1) plunked 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.
“Even in those at-bats, I got them where I wanted to be,” Morton said. “I just didn’t finish them off. I hit Avi, and then I grooved one to Rowdy.”
Tellez was 1 for 13 against the Braves this season until delivering that 411-foot drive, which came immediately after the hefty, bearded slugger fouled a pitch off.
“I don’t know if I broke that bat,” Tellez said. “I just saw something fly off of it. I was like, ‘I need all the help I can get right now.’
“I walked back, and the bat boy didn’t even realize. I kind of just collected my breath and calmed myself, got back to the box, and I said, ‘(Keep) my foot down and just see the pitch and hit the ball hard.’ That’s all I wanted to do.”
The big hit capped quite a comeback for Tellez, who was activated from the injured list Saturday after missing about three weeks with a right patella strain.
“It was a tight timetable,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We knew it was going to be tight. We were fortunate that he got himself healthy. The training staff did a heck of a job.”
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.
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.