ATLANTA -- After their third consecutive dominant starting pitching effort backed by a home run exhibition, the Braves appear to have perfected the formula for a blowout over the last few nights, at the expense of the Rockies.
Braves starter Julio Teheran matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and Justin Upton notched his second multihomer game of the season to power the Braves to a convincing four-game sweep of the Rockies with an 11-2 win.
Teheran struck out the side in the first, third and fifth innings on the way to tying a mark he set when he one-hit the Pirates over eight innings in a 5-0 win on June 5, but his night was cut short by a fast-rising pitch count. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed one run on five hits over five innings, exiting after 103 pitches only to watch Upton and Jason Heyward pad the lead with home runs that put the game well out of reach.
Teheran may have been able to last deeper into the game if not for a string of hard-working at-bats put together by the Rockies in the early going. He walked leadoff man Dexter Fowler and allowed a pair of weakly hit infield singles in the first inning to load the bases before recovering to strike out the next two batters.
"Julio wasn't as sharp as we've seen before, but boy, he battled," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I thought the first inning after he gives up a couple infield singles, bases loaded, you see the miles per hour really really elevate. I think it was 93-94 against [first baseman Todd] Helton and then the next guy. He really did a nice job."
The Rockies loaded the bases on Teheran again in a 37-pitch second inning, but after allowing one run to score on a sacrifice fly, Teheran caught Troy Tulowitzki looking at a curveball low in the zone to end the inning, and Tulowitzki was ejected for arguing with home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson.
Colorado's offense offered little protest over the next three innings as Teheran retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
"I was mixing really good," Teheran said. "I didn't use my two-seamer like I did earlier in the season, so today I was trying to make my pitch and use my four-seam, and that was coming out good from my hand tonight."
Upton got the Braves off to another hot start with a two-run shot with no outs in the first to send a big league welcome to Rockies starter Chad Bettis, who was making his Major League debut.
"You know it's his first start and I haven't seen him, he hasn't seen me," Upton said. "You go out and hopefully the adrenaline makes him make a mistake, and then the next two at-bats once he settled in, he got me. So you kind of try to look for a pitch in the middle of the plate and something you can handle."
"Oh, yeah, there were some nerves there," Bettis said. "First time out there were definitely some butterflies there. I was trying to minimize those as much as I could. After three or four batters, I started settling in there and felt better."
Heyward became the seventh Braves player with at least 10 home runs this season when he ripped a two-run shot to right field in the fifth after Teheran collected his second hit of the night to lead off the inning.
After the Rockies cut the Atlanta lead to three on Jonathan Herrera's RBI single in the seventh inning, the Braves got the run back in the bottom half of the frame thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Chris Johnson, who raised his league-leading batting average to .346 and recorded his seventh consecutive multihit game.
Then in the eighth, Upton cranked a three-run blast to left-center to match his season high with five RBIs. He has hit safely in seven of the last eight games, and he needed only one game in the month of August to equal his combined home run output from the past two months.
"It comes and it goes," Upton said. "You have to enjoy it when it's going well for you and when the ball's carrying out of the yard for you. You ride it out and then continue to try to get your hits."
Brian McCann and Johnson drove home the final two runs in back-to-back at-bats in the eighth to give the Braves 40 runs over the course of their four-game sweep of Colorado, the most they have scored in any one series this season by a wide margin.
With the win, the Braves capped off their first perfect homestand of at least seven games since 2000 and only the second in the franchise's Atlanta history. They also extended their first-place lead to 11 1/2 games in the National League East ahead of a six-game road trip against division foes Philadelphia and Washington, which they will enter with a surge of confidence and an opportunity to all but bury their next two closest challengers in the division by the end of the first week of August.
"I really felt like no matter how many runs they scored, we were going to outscore them," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. "Everybody looked good at the plate, everybody seems comfortable -- Justin's hitting the ball well, Freddie [Freeman] is doing what he's been doing the whole year, Jason's crushing the ball, [Brian McCann's] doing the same thing. Everybody's pretty much doing well at the plate. It's fun to see."
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.